On July 27, 2006, President Bush became the fourth president to extend core temporary enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act, and the second to sign a 25-year extension. On signing the bill into law, he committed his administration to “vigorously enforce the provisions of this law” and to “defend it in court.”
The Reauthorization bill extends for 25 years several important enforcement provisions of the Act that would have otherwise expired in 2007. The provisions include Section 5, which requires covered jurisdictions with a long history of voting discrimination to submit any voting changes to the Department of Justice or a federal court for approval in advance of implementation; and Section 203, which provides for translated materials and translators where there are high concentrations of language minority voters with limited English proficiency.
The Voting Rights Act Reauthorization was passed by an overwhelming vote in the House of Representatives on July 13, 2006, and by unanimous vote in the Senate seven days later. The Voting Rights Act is widely recognized as the most effective civil rights legislation ever passed. Since 1965, the Act has enabled millions of African-American, Latino, Asian American and Native American citizens who were previously denied access to the ballot an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. It has has also opened local and state legislatures and Congress where more than 14,500 Black, Latino, and Asian elected officials serve today.
Throughout our history, LDF has worked to secure voting rights for all Americans, including our Constitutional defense of the 2006 Reauthorization of the VRA in the U.S. Supreme Court. We have also supported and represented the brave men and women who fought for, and even died for, passage of the Voting Rights Act. The VRA is perhaps the finest example of the progress that can be achieved when the Constitution id vigorously enforced.