MALDEF

Voting Rights Act Reauthorization of 2006

MALDEF has played a critical role in renewals of the landmark federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) and in the expansion of the Act to include bilingual services and protections for citizens with limited English proficiency. Initially passed in 1965, the VRA is designed to protect the rights of all citizens to have access to the democratic process and effectively elect their representatives of choice.

The two sections of the VRA that most directly affect the Latino community are Section 203, the provision requiring voting materials to be in the language most understandable to voters, and Section 5, the requirement that certain states and counties that have historically denied the voting rights of minorities to “pre-clear” any voting changes through the U.S. Department of Justice prior to implementation.

During the most recent reauthorization process, 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. Their efforts were successful: in July 2006, Congress overwhelmingly voted to reauthorize Sections 5 and 203 of the VRA for an additional 25 years. This was the fifth renewal of the VRA since its original passage in 1965.

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