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Will California lead the nation on voting rights?

Will California lead the nation on voting rights?

In 1965, only 2% of African Americans were registered to vote in Selma, Ala. Those who tried were asked to name all 67 county judges in the state and faced constant harassment, if not outright brutality.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 abolished such literacy tests for voter registration and enfranchised millions of new voters. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 expanded access to the ballot by requiring the federal government to offer voter registration forms at motor vehicle offices and public assistance agencies.

Despite these landmark laws, a quarter of Americans — 51 million people — remain unregistered to vote. The United States consistently ranks near...