Today, the Senate passed the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 (S. 2703), which would extend the Voting Rights Acts expiring provisions for twenty-five years, through 2032.
Margaret Fung, Executive Director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) issued the following statement:
We commend the Senate for moving swiftly to renew key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, including the language assistance provisions that have enabled Asian Americans and other language minority citizens to cast an informed ballot and participate fully in the political process.
Voting discrimination still exists today, and the extensive record before Congress documents the many present-day barriers to voting for African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans. Since 1992, when the Voting Rights Acts language assistance provisions were expanded, Asian Americans have registered in greater numbers, voter turnout has increased, and the number of Asian American elected officials has steadily grown.
We applaud the Senate for recognizing the continued need for language assistance for minority voters not yet fluent in English, as well as the requirement for jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to get federal approval before implementing voting changes. The passage of this critical law is an important step forward in securing equal access to the vote for all Americans.
AALDEF testified in support of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution on November 8, 2005 and the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 13, 2006. A copy of AALDEFs comprehensive report, Asian Americans and the Voting Rights Act: The Case for Reauthorization, was formally submitted to Congress in June 2006. The report is available here.