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The Voting Rights Act of 1970 was a major piece of civil rights legislation in the United States that was signed into law on July 18, 1970 by President Richard Van Dyke after nearly a year of legislative fighting over passing it. The law banned and made it a felony for any person or institution to willfully, intentionally or knowingly deny any person in the United States who is otherwise eligible to vote through any form of coercion, loophole or other "unconstitutional test." The bill ended the practice in some Southern states of denying blacks the right to vote to keep Southern Democrats in power and effectively ended segregation in the South. The bill, popular amongst both Northern and Southern liberals as well as moderates in the Midwest and Western United States, ran into opposition amongst powerful Southern Senators who controlled the Committees it had to pass through and was forced to survive filibusters in the Senate. First introduced in 1968, it took nearly two years to pass until a bipartisan majority broke filibuster on it.
Politically, the bill helped solidify minority support for Nationalists, who had been losing support amongst those key groups due to their economic policies since the 1940s despite social legislation generally favored by minority groups. The opposition to the bill is also viewed as helping torpedo the careers of several prominent Southern Democrats who were replaced either by more moderate members of their own part in the 1970s or by Nationalists. As historians note, "the Voting Rights Act of 1970 began the process of the Democratic Party either self-exorcising its most segregationist members from its ranks or forcing those Southern Democrats who remained to moderate their positions. It also helped solidify Nationalist power for the next thirty years."