Census BureauA landmark piece of legislation was signed into law this week 46 years ago by President Lyndon Johnson — the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Among its provisions, the act outlawed attempts to discriminate against minority voters with literacy tests and poll taxes.  The law has been extended four times, most recently in 2006, and some of its sections have been made permanent through the years.  Voter eligibility and turnout is shaping up to be an important topic in next year’s presidential election, with charges and countercharges of voter fraud and vote suppression.   In the election of 2008, nearly 61 percent of African-Americans voted, as well as 32 percent of both Asians and Hispanics.

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