Civil Rights Coalition Celebrates Renewal of Landmark Voting Rights Act

Media 07.27.06

This morning on the South Lawn, President Bush signed a bill renewing for 25 years the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act and recognized leaders of the civil rights community including Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Chairperson Dr. Dorothy Height.

“This is a grand day of celebration and triumph for all Americans, not just minorities,” said LCCR’s executive director Wade Henderson. “The cornerstone of democracy is the ability to influence government and the key to that is the vote. President Bush’s signing of the bill to renew the Voting Rights Act guarantees that all American citizens will continue to have that access – and the protection of that access – for another 25 years.”

LCCR and its coalition members were instrumental in the push to renew and reauthorize expiring protections in the VRA. In the days leading up to the vote, more than 100,000 reauthorization petitions were collected and 15,000 calls for renewal were made to Congressional offices from voters in all 50 states. The coalition activated and trained thousands of community leaders who held voting rights activities in nearly 30 states – educating and energizing thousands of voters about the importance of the law in the months leading up to the vote.

The Voting Rights Act bans racial discrimination in voting nationwide. This morning, the president signed a bill overwhelmingly supported by Republicans and Democrats in Congress to renew key expiring protections including language assistance, federal oversight of elections, and Election Day monitors.

Henderson added, “The bipartisan support for the legislation underscores the recognition of and importance of equality for all citizens’ right to use the voting booth to elect officials who reflect their concerns. For, if liberty and equality are found chiefly in a democracy, as Aristotle said, then it is best attained when everyone shares in the government to the utmost.

Our task is not done in transforming this democratic republic into a democracy for all, but today marked another glorious step toward that ideal.”