President Lyndon B. Johnson moves to shake hands with Dr. Martin Luther King while others look on. [LBJ Library photo by Yoichi Okamoto #A1030-17a]

President Lyndon B. Johnson moves to shake hands with Dr. Martin Luther King while others look on. [LBJ Library photo by Yoichi Okamoto #A1030-17a]

Voting Rights Act anniversary celebrated, yet threats rising

Aug 07, 2012

Monday was a sobering anniversary for those of us who care deeply about the health of our democracy. When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law on Aug. 6, 1965, and when President George W. Bush renewed it in 2006, they were trying to prevent barriers to voting. It is tragic that efforts to bar millions of Americans from casting ballots have instead accelerated in recent years.

Observers should not underestimate this threat — the very future of our democracy is at stake. Voter suppression efforts have only grown since 2000, when our worries were about the accuracy of voting equipment and Supreme Court bias. Even if the outcome was uncertain, however, most voters were rarely barred from participating in elections. read more