Protecting the Right to Vote

The foot soldiers of the civil rights movement risked their lives to secure the right to vote for African Americans. But the Voting Rights Act of 1965, known as the “crown jewel” of the civil rights movement, was gutted by a devastating Supreme Court ruling in 2013 that sent a chilling message to African Americans, the Latino community, disabled persons, students, and many others who continue to face politically-motivated hurdles when voting. The Right has been whipping up hysteria about mass illegal voting that simply doesn't exist, and continues to use it to fuel an onslaught of voter suppression laws – all to keep certain people from exercising their right to vote.

People For the American Way has worked to restore the Voting Rights Act and pushed back on voter suppression. We have been on the front lines of change. Our affiliated PFAW Foundation's African American Ministers Leadership Council and Young People For have prioritized civic engagement and trained their members to organize their own communities. PFAW Foundation's Young Elected Officials Network has also seen its members take action to defend democracy.

Show Less

Read More

What You Need to Know

  • With Shelby County v. Holder, the Roberts Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, the “crown jewel” of the civil rights movement.
  • Right-wing organizations are working to keep certain people from casting ballots that count.
  • Democracy deserves better, and we are making progress.

Read more

Why is the Voting Rights Act important?

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was an important achievement of the civil rights movement. In securing their right to vote, the Voting Rights Act said that African Americans mattered.

We can never stop sending that message. Racial discrimination and violence and voter suppression still exist, and African Americans and many others still need the Voting Rights Act. Everyone’s rights are at stake.

By the Numbers:

1965
The year President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.

2013
The year the Voting Rights Act became a shell of its former self due to the Shelby County v. Holder ruling.

14
The number of states in 2016 that had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election.