Department of Justice's Enforcement Activities Regarding the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as Amended

Gao ID: 104856 February 6, 1978

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, was designed to alleviate racial and language discrimination in voting and to enable racial and minority language citizens to have the same electoral rights and opportunities as other Americans. The Department of Justice's program for enforcing the act has contributed towards meeting its objectives, but certain improvements are needed. Deficiencies identified were: lack of assurance that states and localities are fully complying with provisions for federal review of changes in the electoral process; failure to perform comprehensive evaluations of the examiner and observer programs; limited litigative activity by Justice; limited usefulness of the Census Bureau's biennial survey in identifying jurisdictions with voting problems; and weaknesses in implementing language provisions and difficulties in identifying populations needing assistance. The act's objectives could be more fully realized if the Attorney General: (1) improved compliance by developing procedures for disseminating information to states and localities, identifying noncompliance, and conducting followup reviews; (2) reassessed current Justice guidelines for documentation related to voting law changes; (3) developed data and information systems; (4) provided more assistance to election officials; (5) assessed cost factors; and (6) made other organizational and personnel changes. Congress should consider amending minority language provisions and reassess the requirement for collecting voting statistics.

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