Skip to main content

NAACP Strongly Supports the Immediate Renewal and Reauthorization of the 1965 Voting Rights Act

WHEREAS, despite the fact that African Americans and other racial and ethnic minority Americans were guaranteed the right to vote by the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was passed just after the Civil War in 1850, states and local municipalities continued to use tactics such as poll taxes, literacy tests and outright intimidation to stop people from casting free and unfettered ballots for more than 100 years; and

WHEREAS, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted to insure that no federal, state or local government may in any way impede people from registering to vote or voting because of their race or ethnicity; and

WHEREAS, most provisions in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and specifically the portions that guarantee that no one may be denied the right to vote because of his or her race or color, are permanent; and

WHEREAS, there are, however, three crucial enforcement-related provisions of the Voting Rights Act that will expire in August 2007 unless reauthorized; and

WHEREAS, originally, in 1965, legislators hoped that within five years the problems would be resolved and there would be no further need for these enforcement-related provisions: however, it proved necessary to extend these in 1970, and again in 1975 and 1982; and

WHEREAS, these reauthorizations were accomplished in each case with a strong bipartisan majority and were signed into law by both Democratic and Republican Presidents; and

WHEREAS, the first is Section 5, which requires certain jurisdictions to obtain approval or "pre-clearance" from the US Department of Justice or the US District Court in D.C. before they can make any changes to voting practices or procedures. Federal approval will be given only after the jurisdiction proves that the proposed change does not, have the purpose or effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color; and

WHEREAS, the second provision that is due to expire in August 2007 is Section 203, which requires certain jurisdictions to provide bilingual language assistance to voters in communities where there is a concentration of citizens who are limited English proficient. This provision was added to the Voting Rights Act in 1975; and

WHEREAS, the third set of expiring provisions are those in Sections 6-9 which authorize the federal government to send federal election examiners and observers to certain jurisdictions covered by Section 5 where there is evidence of attempts to intimidate minority voters at the polls; and

WHEREAS, hearings held in the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2005 and on-going hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee have found a new generation of tactics, including at-large elections, annexations, last minute poll place changes and redistricting which have had a discriminatory impact on voters, especially racial and ethnic minority American voters; and

WHEREAS, these extensive and thorough hearings conclusively demonstrated that barriers to equal minority voter protection remain in the United States today; and

WHEREAS, on May 2, 2006, legislation was introduced in both the US House and the US Senate, with strong support from both political parties, to reauthorize and restore expiring portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act; and

WHEREAS, the right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act provides the legal basis to protect this right for all Americans; now

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms its strong support of the Fannie Lou Hammer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms its call on the U.S. Congress and the President of the United States to enact the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 prior to the adjournment of the 109th Congress.