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Friday, July 21, 2006

SALDEF Applauds Swift Congressional Passage of the Voting Rights Act

Release Date: 07/21/06
News Source: CivilRights.org

President Bush Expected to Sign Bill Prior to Summer Recess

July 21, 2006
Rajbir Singh Datta
202-393-2700 ext. 27

The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the nation's oldest Sikh American civil rights organization, commends the United States Senate for voting unanimously on June 20, 2006 in support of the reauthorization of S. 2703 the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, and Cesar E. Chavez Voting Rights Act (VRA). Previously, on July 13, 2006 the House of Representatives voted 390-33 to approve the reauthorization of VRA extending the crucial voter protections set out in this bill for an additional 25 years.

"We commend both houses of Congress for passing this historic and tremendously important piece of legislation that will continue to protect and sustain America's democracy," said SALDEF President Mirin Kaur Phool. "In passing this bill with no amendments, Congress has taken a giant step in ensuring that all citizens get their fair and equal access to vote."

Among the provisions which were being threatened include Section 203 of the VRA with requires certain states and local jurisdictions to provide language assistance in languages other than English to voters who are not literate or fluent in English. Additionally at risk of expiring was Section 5, which requires certain states and local governments to "preclear" proposed changes in voting or election procedures with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The language provisions in Section 203 are vital to ensure that Sikh Americans have the ability to take part in the democratic process by going to the polls while Section 5 ensures that any proposed changes in areas that have a history of discrimination have a degree of oversight to ensure the changes are being made in good faith.

Voting is a hallmark of a true democracy and SALDEF urges President George W. Bush to fulfill his earlier commitment and sign this legislation into law. The VRA implemented safeguards necessary for all minorities and low-income individuals to possess the right to have their vote count as equally as their wealthy counterparts. This is the true nature of America, and we must protect it.


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