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By the Numbers: Voting rights

By Toby Lyles, CNN Library
updated 5:21 PM EST, Thu February 28, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965 followed attack on civil rights protesters in Selma, Alabama
  • The law hinges on the constitutionality of Section 5 enforcement
  • Supreme Court's decision might significantly alter the Voting Rights Act
  • "Covered jurisdictions" at the heart of oral arguments

(CNN) -- On the same day that a statue of civil rights icon Rosa Parks joined those of other American heroes in the Capitol's Statuary Hall, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Section 5 of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which concerns certain states and localities needing approval to make any changes to voting procedures.

Here's a look at voting rights, by the numbers:

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15 - The amendment to the Constitution that states: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

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47 -- Number of years since "Bloody Sunday" -- March 7, 1965, when non-violent voting rights marchers heading to the state capital of Montgomery, Alabama, were attacked by state troopers in Selma.

8 -- Number of days after "Bloody Sunday," in which President Lyndon Johnson, in a speech before a joint session of Congress, said: "There is no constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong, deadly wrong, to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country."

5 -- Number of months after "Bloody Sunday" -- August 6, 1965 — that Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law as an "act to enforce the 15th amendment to the Constitution."

5 - The section of the Voting Rights Act at issue in Supreme Court arguments on Wednesday: "Freezes election practices or procedures in certain states until the new procedures have been subjected to review, either after an administrative review by the United States Attorney General, or after a lawsuit before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia."

16 - "Covered jurisdictions" that because of their voting rights history must be pre-cleared prior to making changes to their voting procedures. Included are nine states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia; counties within California, Florida, New York, North Carolina, and South Dakota; and townships in Michigan and New Hampshire.

4 -- Number of times that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act has been extended: In 1970, 1975, 1982, and 2006 -- the last time it was extended until the year 2032.

3 -- Years ago that a U.S. Supreme Court case, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, questioned the extension of Section 5. The court, in the end, didn't answer the question.

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9 -- States that offered their views on the Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder, which questioned the renewal of Section 5: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. They all include "covered jurisdictions" and must be pre-cleared prior to making changes to their voting procedures.

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