Statements from Civil Rights Leaders on the Importance of Reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act
Hilary Shelton, Washington Bureau Director of the NAACP
Listen with Quicktime (1:05)
The NAACP commends the House of Representatives for voting to reauthorize this important law, so critical in protecting the right to vote for all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or other differences. The House-passed bill keeps Justice Department oversight in voting rights protections - a key provision needed to keep minority voting rights from being diminished or even lost. We now look forward to swift action on the part of the Senate so that the President can sign this bill during the first week in August.
Today's House vote is an important step on the road to continued protection of voting rights for all Americans. Despite much progress, the Voting Rights Act is still crucial in the protection of minority voters and enfranchisement of all Americans. We now look forward to swift action by the Senate so that a bill can be on the President's desk for signing by the first week in August.
Nancy Zirkin, Deputy Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Director of Public Policy
Listen with Quicktime (0:40)
Why the Senate needs to act
This country has taken the lead in spreading democracy abroad and we can do no less to maintain its vitality here at home. That is why it is critical that the Senate and its leaders-people like Specter and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist - now provide for full debate and present the reauthorizing legislation to the full Senate for a vote so it can be on the President's desk for signing by early August.
Khelan Bhatia, Senior Legislative Representative for the AARP
Listen with Quicktime (0:48)
AARP applauds the House's action to renew the Voting Rights Act and three of its key protections. Now it's time for action by the Senate leadership. The nation has come a long way since the VRA was enacted 41 years ago, but discrimination still exists. The Senate needs to pass the VRA so that President Bush has a bill to sign on his desk by August.
AARP members remember when there were overt barriers to voting for African Americans. That's history now, but barriers to minority voting continue. The great legacy of the civil rights movement is that the majority of Americans today embrace the idea that no citizen should be excluded from the voting booth. The House has acted, now it's time for Senate leaders to join with Senator Arlen Specter to pass a bill for the President to sign in August.
Angela Arboleda, Associate Director, Criminal Justice Policy for the National Council of La Raza
Listen with Quicktime (1:26)
The National Council of La Raza applauds the House today for reauthorizing legislation that will renew key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. This action shows that Congress and the nation are committed to removing voting barriers for all citizens, including those citizens who do not speak English well enough and need help understanding complex voting materials. The Latino community is eager for the Senate to take swift action now, so that the bill can be on the President's desk by the first week of August.
Today's action by the House of Representatives ensures that all eligible American citizens can exercise the right to vote. That is especially important for the growing Latino community which continues to face barriers to full voting rights. For example, during the 2004 election, many Latino voters were turned away from the polls because they were told that if they did not understand the ballot, they did not need to vote. The reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act will build on the significant gains that have been achieved for minority voters and ensure that the right to vote is not rolled back. Latino citizens across the nation look forward to the Senate vote and urge the President to sign the bill into law as soon as it gets to his desk, the first week of August.
Listen with Quicktime (En Espanol) (1:41)
El Consejo Nacional de La Raza elogia a la Cámara de Representantes por volver a autorizar la legislación que renueva la Ley del Derecho al Voto y varias de sus estipulaciones clave. Esta acción muestra que el Congreso y la nación están comprometidos a eliminar las barreras del voto a todos los ciudadanos, incluyendo a los que todavía necesitan ayuda para entender los complejos materiales en inglés sobre la votación. La comunidad latina espera una acción rápida del Senado para que el proyecto esté en el escritorio del presidente en la primera semana de agosto.
La acción de hoy de la Cámara permitirá que la Ley del Derecho al Voto continúe asegurando el voto para todos los estadounidenses. Esto es especialmente importante para la creciente comunidad latina que sigue enfrentando barreras para sus derechos al voto y a los ciudadanos que continúan con una mal representación política. Esperamos el voto del Senado para la renovación a fin de que el proyecto llegue al escritorio del presidente en la primera semana de agosto y que no se debiliten los avances logrados para los votantes de las minorías.
Richard A. Guest, Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund
Listen with Quicktime (0:50)
We are pleased that the House voted to reauthorize this important legislation, so critical to protecting the right to vote for all Americans, and especially important to Native Americans, the first Americans. Native Americans have faced the same barriers to their free and full participation at the ballot box as other minorities. And it continues in the 21st century - a 2004 decision in a South Dakota lawsuit documents how county officials purposely blocked Native Americans from registering to vote and from casting ballots. Today's action ensures that the Voting Rights Act will continue to combat voting discrimination and will ensure that all Americans can vote. That is particularly important to the Native American community where legal barriers to our voting weren't removed until the 1960s. Still we face barriers to Indian voting power. We look forward to the Senate acting to vote on renewal so that a bill can be on the President's desk the first week of August and the gains that have been achieved for minority voters are not rolled back.
Wade Henderson, Executive Director, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Listen with Quicktime (0:19)
Today's action is an important step on the road to protecting voting rights for all Americans. The bipartisan support for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act is a reaffirmation of the importance of the vote as a fundamental right not just for a few as in some countries but for all citizens in our great American democracy.
Barbara Arnwine, Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Listen with Quicktime (0:29)
"We're pleased that the House voted to renew the Voting Rights Act - which goes to the heart of our democracy - making sure that all Americans have the right to vote. We look forward to quick Senate action. The House-passed bill keeps Justice Department oversight in the Voting Rights Act. It operates as a stop light that is still needed to keep local and state laws from being passed that diminish minority voting power."
Debo Adegbile, Associate Director of Litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc.
Download as an mp3 file (0:25)
The Voting Rights Act and its oversight requirement for those states and counties with a history of voter discrimination provides a powerful shield to protect the voting rights of minority citizens.
Given substantial evidence of continuing voting discrimination, justice demands extending and strengtheningh the Votng Rights Act for 25 more years. Now with House passage, we expect the Senate to quickly move forward to a vote.
Estuardo Rodriguez of MALDEF
Listen with Quicktime (En Espanol) (1:03)
El Fondo México-Americano para la Defensa Legal y la Educación aplaude los exitosos esfuerzos bipartidistas del Congreso hoy. Los líderes de ambos partidos nuevamente han decidido renovar la Ley del Derecho al Voto. Esto demuestra que el Congreso se ha comprometido a eliminar todas las barreras al voto para ciudadanos, incluyendo aquellos que aun necesitan ayuda para entender los materiales para votar en Ingles. La comunidad Latina espera que el Senado pronto tome acción sobre la Ley del Derecho al Voto y que siga inmediatamente después al escritorio del Presidente a más tardar la primera semana de Agosto.
Hoy el Congreso aseguro que la Ley del Derecho al Voto seguirá protegiendo los ciudadanos que no son anglohablantes nativos proveyendo la asistencia en el idioma que necesitan para emitir un voto informado. La comunidad Latina espera que el Senado ahora tome acción y apruebe la renovación del para que esta legislación este listo para la firma del Presidente a mas tardar la primera semana de Agosto.
Caroline Frederickson, Director, ACLU
Commending the House's vote to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act
Download as an mp3 file (0:23)
On the importance of prompt reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act with key provisions intact
Download as an mp3 file (0:28)
Karen Narasaki, President and Executive Director of the Asian American Justice Center
Listen with Quicktime (0:54)