Friday, July 07, 2006

LBJ's daughters: Don't Dismantle the Voting Rights Act - New York Times

Don't Dismantle the Voting Rights Act - New York Times: "The Voting Rights Act, signed into law on Aug. 6, 1965, by our father, President Lyndon Johnson, opened the political process to millions of Americans. The law was born amid the struggle for voting rights in Selma and Montgomery, Ala., which the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called 'a shining moment in the conscience of man.' By eliminating barriers, including poll taxes and literacy tests, that had long prevented members of minority groups from voting, the act became a keystone of civil rights in the United States.

Now, crucial provisions of this legislation are in jeopardy. Last month, Congress seemed set to renew expiring sections intended to prevent voter discrimination based on race or language proficiency. Instead, a group of House lawmakers opposed to those sections succeeded in derailing their consideration.

The Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination in voting everywhere in the country. But it has a special provision, Section 5, intended for regions with persistent histories of discrimination. These states and localities must have their election plans approved by the Justice Department.

Since the act was last renewed, in 1982, the federal government has objected to hundreds of proposed changes in state and local voting laws on the basis of their discriminatory impact. In recent years, proposed election changes in Georgia, Texas and other states were blocked because they violated the act."


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