National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators

2007            2006  

Back to news menu

June 20, 2006

Contact: Tatiana Guerra
202-434-8070

National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators Urges Support for Reauthorization for Voting Rights Act

Washington, DC – Today, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators sent a letter to Speaker Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, urging them to support the “Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006.” The letter follows:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert, Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable John Boehner The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Majority Leader Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker Hastert, Majority Leader Boehner, & Minority Leader Pelosi,

On behalf of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), the nation’s leading organization representing the interests of more than 300 Hispanic state legislators from all states, commonwealths, and territories of the United States, we write to urge immediate consideration and strong support for the “Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006.”

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) is rightly considered one of our nation’s most effective civil rights laws and has strengthened the protections of the 15th Amendment of the Constitution. Congress enacted the VRA in direct response to evidence of significant and pervasive discrimination taking place across the country, including the use of literacy tests, poll taxes, intimidation, threats and violence.

In the 41 years since its initial passage, the VRA has enfranchised millions of racial, ethnic and language minority citizens by breaking down barriers to their political participation. It has helped to build inclusive communities by ensuring that all citizens have an opportunity to participate equally in the electoral process.

Three key provisions of the VRA are set to expire on August 6, 2007. Section 5 requires jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to get federal approval for any voting changes before they can be implemented.

Without Section 5, Hispanic Americans and other minority communities would become more vulnerable to discriminatory voting changes implemented to weaken their ability to elect candidates who will represent their community interests. Further, Section 203 of the VRA provides voting assistance for many Americans who do not speak English as a first language or who cannot understand some of the complex ballot initiatives or voting instructions. Also, Sections 6-9 authorize the U.S. Attorney General to appoint federal election observers to document and deter unlawful conduct.

Undoubtedly, the above provisions, especially the language assistance provision of the VRA, are still needed today to ensure that minority voters are able to fully participate in the democratic process. Without these protections many of the advances made during the past 25 years would be wiped out by new barriers to voting. We cannot allow this to happen.

As state legislators we have a commitment and responsibility to ensure and guarantee that the voice of every American be heard. As a member of Congress, you also share that responsibility. We urge expeditious bipartisan support for the reauthorization of the VRA.

Sincerely,

Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (NY)
NHCSL President

cc: Congressional Hispanic Caucus
The Honorable James Sensenbrenner

The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) is a nonpartisan organization representing the interests of Hispanic state legislators from all states, commonwealths, and territories of the United States. NHCSL is a catalyst for joint action on issues of common concern to all segments of the Hispanic community. For more information visit www.nhcsl.org.


 


 

© 2005 - 2007 NHCSL. All rights reserved