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What is Election Campaign and Political Law?

Election campaign and political law encompasses a broad area, including laws governing campaign finance, campaign advertising, and procedural requirements with regard to voting. Unless you are running for public office or are otherwise involved in a political campaign, you likely won't need the counsel of an attorney specializing in politics and campaign law. However, voting rights affect virtually all of us who are of voting age.

In some states, individuals with a felony conviction are prohibited from voting in elections. Additionally, federal labor laws require employers to give employees time off for voting if they request it.

Those who believe their voting rights have been violated should contact their secretary of state's office, but may also want to meet with a civil rights attorney or a legal aid clinic.

The Voting Rights Act: Past and Present

While state governments operate elections for federal offices within their boundaries (such as the House and Senate), the federal government has limited protections for voters. Protections afforded by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which were meant to curb some states' systematic exclusion of minority voters, were mostly eliminated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.

The Act required states with a history of voter suppression, mainly southern states with so-called Jim Crow laws, to seek federal approval before enacting changes to voting laws. That requirement is no longer in place. See The Voting Rights Act of 1965 - Overview for a chronological history of the Act, from its passage to its near-repeal by the Court in 2013.

More recent challenges to voting laws, even before the Supreme Court ruling, have argued that photo I.D. requirements actually suppress minority voters.

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