ACLU of Tennessee's Annual Meeting to Focus on Renewal of the Voting Rights Act

Affiliate: ACLU of Tennessee
September 13, 2005 12:00 am

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NASHVILLE – The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee’s annual membership meeting, to be held here on September 24, will focus on the importance of renewing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which is scheduled to expire in 2007.

Barry Hargrove, field organizer for the National ACLU Legislative Office, will discuss the current effort underway in Congress to renew and strengthen the Voting Rights Act and ways to support the reauthorization campaign. The program, which will begin at 2:30 p.m., will be held at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University in Room 204.

“”The Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been one of our most successful civil rights laws,”” said Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director of the ACLU of Tennessee. “”Not only did it end literacy tests, poll taxes and other mechanisms that were used to deliberately disenfranchise minority voters, it has helped to advance an essential American freedom: the right to vote. In this way, the Act has guaranteed millions of minority voters the equal opportunity to participate in elections and have their voices heard.””

While most of the Voting Rights Act is permanent, some provisions are set to expire in 2007, including: a requirement that states with a documented history of discriminatory voting practices obtain approval from federal officials before they change election laws; provisions that guarantee access to bilingual election materials for citizens with limited English proficiency; and the authority to send federal examiners and observers to monitor elections in order to prevent efforts to intimidate minority voters at the polls.

“”The Voting Rights Act gave voters real tools to challenge discrimination at the ballot box, but that process is far from complete,”” said Weinberg. “”On the 40th anniversary of its passage, lawmakers should not only reflect on what the Act has accomplished but look at the extensive record of ongoing voting rights violations in order to lay the foundation for reauthorization of the expiring provisions.””

The ACLU has created a new Web site, dedicated to its Voting Rights Act reauthorization campaign. In addition to containing fact sheets and background materials, the new Web site contains one of the most comprehensive historical timelines on voting rights issues currently available.

“”Reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act will require bi-partisan consensus and cooperation,”” Weinberg added. “” The ACLU of Tennessee is joining with organizations across the state and country to call on Congress to renew and strengthen the Voting Rights Act to ensure equal political opportunity and equal access to the ballot box.””

The ACLU of Tennessee is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization dedicated to translating the guarantees of the Bill of Rights into realities for all Tennesseans. As the only statewide organization protecting and promoting civil liberties, the ACLU of Tennessee pursues its mission through education, legislative, advocacy and public education activities.

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