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NEA Issue Explainer

Voting Rights

Whatever our color, background, or ZIP code, our vote gives us a say in the decisions that affect our lives.
the sun sets behind a young Black girl in a field with an American flag blowing in the wind
Published: December 2, 2021
This issue explainer originally appeared on

Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to fight attempts to discriminate against voters, but today a faction of elected representatives refuses to pass laws to protect our freedom to vote. Certain U.S. Supreme Court decisions in recent years have done more harm than good.

Many states are silencing the voices of Black, Brown, Indigenous, young, elderly, and disabled voters.

Congress must pass laws to ensure that every American can safely and freely cast their ballot, building on our legacy of expanding access to voting and welcoming all voices.

Stacey Abrams headshot
“Voter suppression directly impacts the issues most vital to the health and welfare of our nation’s children, such as public education, health care, and affordable housing.”
Quote by: Stacey Abrams, Founder, Fair Fight

Voting Rights

Broadening and expanding access to the vote is entrenched in America’s history.

Establishing nationwide protections

President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to prohibit discrimination in voting by providing nationwide protections for voting rights.

Voting Rights Act is Extended

Congress overwhelmingly passes an extension of the Voting Rights Act by 64-12 in the Senate, 224-183 in the House. President Nixon signs it into law.

Second Reauthorization

The second reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act passes 77-12 in the Senate, 341-70 in the House. President Ford signs it into law.

Pres. Reagan Signs Third Exention

The 25-year extension of the Voting Rights Act passes 85-8 in the Senate, 389-24 in the House. President Reagan signs it into law.

Fourth Reauthorization Overwhelmingly Passes

The fourth reauthorization, the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006, passes 98-0 in the Senate, 390-33 in the House. Pres. George W. Bush signs it into law.

Supreme Court Weakens Protections

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder sweeps away a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that prevented states with a history of voter discrimination from changing their voting laws and practices without preclearance by federal officials.

Voting Rights Endangered

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee makes it more difficult to challenge discriminatory voting laws passed by states. Legislatures in many states pass laws making it harder to vote using a range of tactics, including imposing harsher ID requirements and shortening the time for mail-in ballots.

Speak Up For Students and Public Schools

When we act together and lift our voices together in unison, we can improve the lives of children.
Members march down the street wearing red and carrying signs.

Together we're stronger. Together we're heard.

You belong in the movement! Join today to belong to the movement of educators and school staff fighting for the pay and working conditions we all deserve.

Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education

The Oregon Education Association (OEA) is a union committed to the cause of providing the basic right of great public education to every student. OEA represents about 41,000 educators working in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 public schools and community colleges. OEA’s membership includes licensed teachers and specialists, classified/education support professionals (ESPs), community college faculty, retired educators, and student members. OEA members also belong to the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA).