NLC Urges Congress to Expedite Passage of Voting Rights Act

Article excerpt

NLC and a coalition of state and local organizations are again calling on Congress to expedite reauthorization of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the wake of an effort by a group of Representatives to block action.

Since its initial passage, the Voting Rights Act has enfranchised millions of racial, ethnic and language minority citizens by breaking down barriers to political participation.

NLC supports the renewal of these key provisions in the act because the failure to renew them will hinder the nation's progress in guaranteeing the right to vote to every American citizen:

* Section 5 contains the "pre-clearance" provisions requiring jurisdictions in all or part of 16 states to prove to the U.S. Department of Justice that changes in voting locations or other administrative procedures will not have a discriminatory purpose or effect on minority voters;

* Section 203 requires more than 450 counties and townships to provide bilingual language assistance to limited English speaking voters;

* Sections 6 through 9 collectively authorize the Department of Justice to appoint examiners and send observers to the polls to deter, witness or report discriminatory activities.

The letter was sent to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and all members of Congress by NLC, Council of State Governments, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Association of Secretaries of State, National Association of Counties and U. …