Voting Rights in California: 1982-2006

Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice, Vol. 17, No. 131, Fall 2007

64 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2008


The article provides a comprehensive description of voting discrimination in California from 1982 to 2006. This article was presented as a report to Congress during the 2006 reauthorization and amendments to the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. ยง 1973, et seq. The authors focus on the continued necessity for Section 5 review of changes affecting voting and for a bilingual election process in selected jurisdictions. In effect since 1965, Section 5 requires covered jurisdictions to submit all voting changes for approval to either the United States Attorney General or the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The burden is on the jurisdiction to demonstrate the absence of a discriminatory purpose in the enactment of a proposed voting change and to show that the change does not discriminate against minority voting strength. Section 5 has been the most effective civil rights law ever enacted, preventing the implementation of over a thousand voting changes that could have discriminated against minority communities. The bilingual election provisions, first enacted in 1975 as Section 203, have proven to be an important avenue in providing language minorities access to the political process. Although there have been substantial improvements in the elimination of discriminatory election features, methods of election, and English-only election processes, there continues to be a need for federal oversight in this area. This article documents the voting discrimination that occurred in California from 1982 to 2006. This report, along with other state reports, served as the evidentiary basis for Congress in 2006 to both reauthorize and amend the Voting.

Keywords: Voting, Voting Discrimination, Voting Discrimination in California, 2006 Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments

JEL Classification: J79

Suggested Citation

Avila, Joaquin G., Voting Rights in California: 1982-2006. Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice, Vol. 17, No. 131, Fall 2007, Available at SSRN:

Joaquin G. Avila (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

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