April 30, 2016

Chapter 4: Using Census Data Sources to Prove Citizenship in Voting Rights Litigation

When the Voting Rights Act was enacted in 1965, it was designed to address denial of the franchise on account of race. Specifically, it was designed to respond to the electoral discrimination against African-Americans in the Deep South. While other racial groups, such as Asians, might take advantage of the original Act, it was not amended to reach Hispanics until 1975. Thus, the initial suits under the Voting Rights Act, including most filed after 1975, involved African-Americans. Citizenship was not an issue in those suits because the percentage of adult Anglos and African-Americans who are citizens of the United States is very close to equal with 98.3 percent of adult Anglos and 95.1 percent of adult Blacks being citizens. It is only where the relevant groups have disparate citizenship rates that the issue arises.

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