Sunday, April 23, 2006

Expiration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act -- Is Our Right to Vote in Jeopardy?

The short answer to that question is: no, our right to vote is not in jeopardy, per se. However, certain provisions of the landmark Act are set to expire in 2007, which could potentially affect our ability to vote if the implementation of discriminatory practices is allowed. Specifically, Sections 5, 6, 9 and 203 are set to expire. Here's a quick breakdown of each section:
  • Section 5 -- Applies to any state or county where a discriminatory test or device was used as of November 1, 1964, and where less than 50 percent of the voting age residents of the jurisdiction were registered to vote, or actually voted, in the presidential election of 1964, 1968, or 1972 (about 16 states altogether). Requires these states to submit proposed changes to any voting law or procedure to the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C for pre-approval, to prevent those states with prior discriminatory practices from instituting future discriminatory practices.
  • Section 203 -- Applies to communities with voters in at least one of four language groups -- American Indians, Asian Americans, Alaskan Natives, and those of Spanish heritage -- if (1) more than 5% of the voting-age citizens in a jurisdiction belong to a single language minority community and have limited English proficiency (LEP); OR (2) more than 10,000 voting-age citizens in a jurisdiction belong to a single language minority community and are LEP; AND (3) the illiteracy rate of the citizens in the language minority is higher than the national illiteracy rate (affects jurisdictions across 31 states). Requires these jurisdictions to make language assistance available at polling locations for citizens with limited English proficiency.
  • Sections 6 and 9 -- Gives the Justice Department the ability to send observers and monitors around the country during election season to protect election-related civil rights.

To find out if your state or jurisdiction is one affected by these expiring sections, click here:

Whether or not your state is one affected by this, black folks need to pay attention to the possibility that these sections could possibly expire. ANY depletion of voting rights for ANYONE, or of the mechanisms that keep this process fair, is a bad trend for everyone -- not just those directly affected by the expiring provisions.

Black folks -- TAKE ACTION!!!!!! Click on this link to find out how your voice can be heard:

Congress needs to know that we won't sit by quietly while our right to vote, and to do so in a manner that lacks discrimination, is being chipped away!!!!!


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