ACLU Applauds Senate Judiciary Vote on Voting Rights Act, Urges Senate to Pass a Clean Renewal Without Weakening Amendments

July 19, 2006 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union strongly urged the Senate to quickly take up and pass a “clean,” unamended version Voting Rights Act today after the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the landmark legislation by a vote of 18-0, with no weakening amendments. The Voting Rights Act overwhelmingly passed the House last week, also without any damaging amendments.

The expiring provisions include: Section 5, which requires jurisdictions with significant histories of discrimination in voting to get federal approval of any new voting practices or procedures before they can be implemented; Section 203, which ensures that voters with limited English proficiency get the assistance they need at the polls; and Section 8, which authorizes the attorney general to appoint federal election observers where there is evidence of attempts to intimidate minority voters at the polls. The ACLU has also urged Congress to clarify the statute’s language to address two recent Supreme Court decisions that have eroded the effectiveness of the act.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“It is unfortunate that the provisions in the Voting Rights Act are still needed, but that is exactly why the Senate must move quickly to renew this historic law without any damaging amendments. The right to vote is quite simply the foundation of this democracy and it is a right that must be afforded to every American.

“Earlier this year, the ACLU issued a report highlighting the 293 cases we have brought since 1982 under the Voting Rights Act, which demonstrates the critical and continuing need for this law. At a time when America has taken a leading role in spreading democracy abroad, it is vital that we set the example of an inclusive and thorough voting process here at home.

“Our government must reflect the will of all of our people and the Senate must act to protect every citizen’s right to vote. It is imperative that every American voice be heard.”

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For more information about the ACLU’s concerns with Voting Rights Act reauthorization go to:

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