Acquiring Voting Rights

  • Martha E. Kropf
Part of the Elections, Voting, Technology book series (EVT)


In the summer of 2013, the US Supreme Court changed the course of electoral history by striking down Section 4b of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). This part of the federal VRA defined jurisdictions that had a history of voting discrimination against minority populations. In effect, before the summer of 2013, election law was frozen in nine whole states and parts of six other states (56 counties and two townships), which were defined as “covered” jurisdictions and subject to Section 5 of the act.1 Every time one of those jurisdictions wanted to make even the smallest voting change, they had to apply to the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the DC Federal District Court. Together, the DOJ and the court halted a number of election changes deemed to be discriminatory to both African Americans and Native Americans.


Traumatic Brain Injury Voter Registration Universal Suffrage Black Vote Residency Requirement 
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  1. 2.
    See for example Raskin, Jamin. 2004. “A Right-to-Vote Amendment for the U.S. Constitution: Confronting America’s Structural Democracy Deficit.” Election Law Journal 3(3): 559–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See also Keyssar, Alexander. 2000. The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
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    McDuffie writes that the conservatives gradually “assumed the Democratic label” in the early 1870s (page 83). See McDuffie, Jerome A. 1979. Politics in Wilmington and New Hanover County, North Carolina, 1865–1900: The Genesis of a Race Riot, unpublished PhD dissertation, Kent State University.Google Scholar
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    One scholar of immigration, Monica W. Varsanyi, argues that “the two primary qualifications for voting were residence in a particular place and not being a British citizen, with secondary (though no less important) property-owning, racial, religious and gender qualifications” (2005: 116). This appears to be a matter of emphasis of qualifications by various scholars. Monica W. Varsanyi. 2005. “The Rise and Fall (and Rise?) of Non-citizen Voting: Immigration and the Shifting Scales of Citizenship and Suffrage in the United States.” Space and Polity, 9(2): 113–134, DOI: 10.1080/13562570500304956.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  10. 48.
    For an excellent analysis of registration policies and history of easing registration, see Hanmer, Michael. 2009. Discount Voting: Voter Registration Reforms and Their Effects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 56.
    Link, Jessica N., Martha Kropf, Mark Alexander Hirsch, Flora M. Hammond, Jason Karlawish, Lisa Schur, Douglas Kruse, and Christine S. Davis. 2012. “Assessing Voting Competence and Political Knowledge: Comparing Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries and ‘Average’ College Students.” Election Law Journal 11(1): 52–69.Google Scholar

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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martha E. Kropf
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA

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