Voting Rights and Redistricting

Rodolfo O. de la Garza

in Latino Studies

ISBN: 9780199913701
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:
Voting Rights and Redistricting

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  • History of the Americas
  • US Cultural History


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The Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965, its subsequent amendments, and related court decisions are arguably the nation’s most significant legislation dealing with electoral issues. It was initially designed to remedy anti–African American political discrimination, but to the chagrin of conservative critics, such as Abigail Thernstrom, since 1975 it has expanded to include Latinos and other language minorities and to affect redistricting. This has enabled Latinos to enhance their access to the electoral system. Latinos have collaborated with African Americans to eliminate practices likely to diminish minority electoral access while also focusing on institutionalizing policies and procedures relevant to each group’s distinctive characteristics that guarantee them equal access to the polls and on creating districts that provide Latinos the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice whatever their race or ethnicity. This article provides an overview of these Latino-specific efforts. It begins by describing the original design of the VRA when it focused on African American political rights. It then examines how Latinos came to be covered by the VRA and the impact this had on their electoral life. The essay also considers the issues that Latino inclusion has generated and the unanswered questions it has raised. Overall, the research reviewed indicates that the VRA has contributed to increased Latino electoral participation and representation.

Article.  4837 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; US Cultural History

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