Sikh Ameican Legal Defense Education Fund Applauds Passage of Voting Rights Act

July 21, 2006

Source: Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund

On July 21, 2006 the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund reported, "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 hugely 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. Section 203 is vital to ensuring 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."