Enacted on Aug. 6, 1965, it empowered the federal government to oversee voter registration and elections in communities, especially in the South, that had used tests to determine voter eligibility and or where registration or turnout was less than 50 percent in the 1964 presidential election. It also banned discriminatory literacy tests and expanded voting rights for non-English speaking Americans. The laws effects were wide and powerful. By 1968, for example, nearly 60 percent of eligible blacks were registered to vote in Mississippi. The Voting Rights Act was extended in 1970, 1975, and 1982 and despite some setbacks and debates had an enormous impact by helping elect black lawmakers at the local, state and national levels.
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