MALDEF Hails Senate Passage Of Voting Rights Act Ad A Victory For Latino Empowerment And Democracy

July 20, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) applauded the United States Senate today for its passage of S. 2703, the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, and Cesar Chavez Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006. The Senate reauthorized the landmark legislation by a vote of 98-0. This vote total marks the greatest number by which the Senate has ever approved the VRA.

'Today's vote to extend the Voting Rights Act is a historic reaffirmation of our Nation's commitment to democracy,” said John Trasviña, MALDEF Interim President and General Counsel. “The Voting Rights Act empowers a new generation of Latino, African American, Asian American and Native American citizens to vote, to govern and to lead America forward in the 21st Century.'

The bill renews Sections 5 and 203 of the Act, critical provisions that facilitate the political empowerment of the Latino community. Section 5 requires jurisdictions with a history and current record of voting discrimination to submit election changes for approval by the Department of Justice to ensure that the changes do not discriminate against minority voters. Section 203 requires jurisdictions with large concentrations of certain language minority voters (including Spanish-speaking Latinos) to provide language assistance in elections to those voters who need it. Reflecting the strong bipartisan support for these provisions, Congress reauthorized Sections 5 and 203 for an additional 25 years.

MALDEF, the nation’s leading Latino legal organization, worked closely with other Latino, civil rights, religious, and good government organizations in an intensive campaign to help ensure the passage of the Act. MALDEF attorneys testified before the Senate and House of Representatives Judiciary Committees in support of the Voting Rights Act and served as a resource to Members of Congress and their staffs. Last month, the United States Supreme Court upheld MALDEF’s challenge to the 2003 Texas redistricting plan, ruling that the plan violated the civil rights of 100,000 Latino U.S. citizens who were moved out of one congressional district just as they were able to use their voting power.

Following the House of Representatives’ 390–33 vote last week to reauthorize the VRA, the bill now heads to the President’s desk for his signature. When President Bush signs the legislation, as is expected, it will mark the fifth renewal of the Voting Rights Act since its initial passage in 1965.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund