The House approved the conference report by a 328-74 vote.
The Senate approved the conference report by a 79-18 roll call vote.
President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (S. 1564—PL 89-110). The law departed from the pattern of civil rights bills of recent years in that it provided for direct federal action to enable blacks to register and vote, rather than the often-protracted individual legal suits required by previous legislation.
The final bill, considerably broader than the original, also provided additional machinery for dealing with discriminatory poll taxes, authorized suspension of tests and the appointment of examiners by federal courts in voting rights suits initiated by the Attorney General, and waived English language requirements for persons who had completed the sixth grade in a school under the American flag where the language instruction was other than English.
The legislation brought the federal registration machinery to bear on six southern states (AL, GA, LA, MS, SC, VA), Alaska, 28 counties in North Carolina, three counties in Arizona, and one county in Idaho.
“Remarks in the Capitol Rotunda at the Signing of the Voting Rights Act”
The Justice Department filed suit to strike down the Mississippi poll tax. The department also suspended literacy tests and similar voter qualification devices in the seven states and most of the separate political subdivisions covered by the new act.
The Attorney General designated the first group of counties and parishes in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi for the appointment of federal examiners to process African American voter applicants and order their registration.
The Justice Department filed suit to strike down the poll tax in Alabama, Texas, and Virginia.
A major race riot broke out in the Watts district of southwest Los Angeles, triggered by a minor incident—a white highway patrolman pulling over a black motorist on suspicion of drunken driving. Before the violence ended on August 16, 34 people were killed with thousands arrested. Property damage amounted to more than $40,000,000.
“Watts Rebellion” (Los Angeles, 1965)