The ACLU has defended the voting rights of minorities for most of our history. We challenged the “poll tax”—designed to prevent black Americans from voting—decades before a constitutional amendment abolished the practice in 1964, and we have been the primary enforcer of the Voting Rights Act (VRA)
The ACLU of Texas defends the civil rights and civil liberties of all people in Texas, in courtrooms, at the state legislature, and in large and small communities throughout the Lone Star State.
Voting Rights Act
When the Voting Rights Act was passed nearly fifty years ago, poll taxes and literacy tests were among the tactics used to prevent African Americans and other racial and language minorities from voting. The record-breaking turnout in the 2008 presidential election, especially of minorities, has spurred a new onslaught of voter suppression efforts. Modern day efforts to block access to the polls have taken many forms, including: photo identification requirements; reducing the number of days for early voting; restrictions on third-party voter registration activities; systematic purges of registered voters; challenges to student voters as nonresidents; and unfounded allegations of voter fraud. The ACLU works to counter these voter suppression measures through lobbying, litigation, and public education.
Voter suppression laws
Ostensibly designed to combat a nonexistent epidemic of voter fraud, new voter suppression laws instead threaten to keep millions of eligible voters from the polls, especially people of color, the poor, the elderly, students, and people with disabilities. In the lead-up to the 2012 elections, we filed 28 voting rights lawsuits in 18 states.
In 2013, despite the ACLU’s best efforts, the U.S. Supreme Court disabled Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states and counties to get clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice before changing voting rules. At least six of the 15 affected states introduced new voting restrictions within 48 hours of the Court’s ruling, and the bad laws keep multiplying.
North Carolina enacted a new voter suppression law this summer that could deter nearly 900,000 North Carolinians—over a third of them African-American—from casting their vote. Hours after the North Carolina law was enacted, we challenged it.
We’re currently litigating voting rights cases in 15 states. We’re aggressively pushing Congress to restore Section 5 and launching a massive voter education campaign to help ensure that all voters are aware of their rights. We’ve also prepared for an outrageous new assault on voting from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the same foe who conceived the legal assault on immigrants. Using everything in our toolbox, the ACLU will fight to protect people whose voting rights have been thrown into serious jeopardy.
Defending Minority Voting Rights
The ACLU has defended the voting rights of minorities for most of our history. We challenged the “poll tax”—designed to prevent black Americans from voting—decades before a constitutional amendment abolished the practice in 1964, and we have been the primary enforcer of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
- In 1964, we won the landmark case Reynolds v. Sims before the U.S. Supreme Court, securing the principle of “one person, one vote.”
- In 1972, we won a Supreme Court case, Dunn v. Blumstein, invalidating Tennessee’s one-year residency requirement for registration and voting, a device used to deter voting by blacks.
- In Hunter v. Underwood, the Supreme Court struck down an Alabama law in 1985 that disenfranchised people convicted of misdemeanors involving “moral turpitude”—a pretext to deny blacks the vote.
- In 1986, we won a federal court ruling invalidating “at large” elections in Montana because they diluted the voting strength of American Indians.
- In 2013, we successfully defended the National Voter Registration Act in the Supreme Court in Arizona v. Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, winning against Arizona’s attempt to require new voters to submit documentary proof of citizenship.
- In 2017, we filed an open records request with the Texas Secretary of State seeking documentation related to the State’s compliance with the President Trump's Election Integrity Commission, which had asked states to submit voters’ full names, the last four digits of their social security numbers, their voting histories and information regarding felony convictions. President Trump dissolved the Commission in January of 2018.
- 207The Department of Justice has objected to 207 proposed changes to voting in Texas.
- 6To vote in Texas you must present picture ID at your polling place. But you cannot use any picture ID: Texas will only accept 6 documents.