Document Type


Publication Date



This paper provides an overview of cases decided under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act between September 1, 1982 and December 31, 2021. It updates our 2006 study documenting Section 2 litigation through 2005. Of note is the substantial decline in the number of Section 2 cases decided and diminished success for the plaintiffs who bring them. While recent litigation (including Brnovich and Merrill v. Milligan) suggests that Section 2 is likely to occupy, at best, a diminished role in future electoral disputes, this paper shows that Section 2’s reach had already declined significantly prior to recent disputes. It documents a steep drop in the number of Section 2 decisions involving vote dilution. So too, while plaintiffs bringing dilution claims found notable success in the first decade after Congress amended Section 2 in 1982, they have seen a steady decline in success ever since. Meanwhile, plaintiffs bringing Section 2 non-dilution claims—i.e., alternatively labelled “vote denial” or “time, place and manner” restrictions—have seen less success overall, and, as with dilution claims, a steady decline in success over time.

The Report and underlying dataset can be found at


Ellen D. Katz, Brian Remlinger, Andrew Dziedzic, Brooke Simone, and Jordan Schuler, To Participate and Elect: Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act at 40, Univ. Mich. L. Sch. Voting Rights Initiative (2022),