Thursday marks the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which was passed in 1965.
This year's anniversary falls just weeks after the death of U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who fought for voting rights as a key part of the civil rights movement.
But many groups say voting rights, especially for Black and Latino citizens, are eroding and the law badly needs to be updated. This, as fears of COVID-19 and rhetoric around mail-in voting also threaten ballot access.
Some of the disparity between ballot access is seen in voter registration numbers. According to the U.S. census, in 2018 71% of white Americans were registered to vote, compared to 64% of Blacks and 55% Hispanics.
“Access to knowledge is a huge disparity,” said Stevie Valles, executive director of Chicago Votes. “In Black and Brown communities, there are a number of pressing issues like access to health care, access to fresh produce, (and) to well-funded schools. While voting may be on the fronts of people’s minds who tend to be more privileged, there are other things on the top of people’s minds before voting.”