On the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, LULAC Celebrates Texas Victory And Calls for Congress to Protect Minority Communities who Remain Easy Mark for Voter Suppression

August 6, 2015

Washington, D.C. – LULAC National President, Roger C. Rocha Jr., issued the following statement on the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act:

"The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited states from denying a male citizen the right to vote based on 'race, color or previous condition of servitude.' However, in the years following the passage of the 15th Amendment, discriminatory practices like poll taxes and mandatory literacy tests continued to prevent minorities from voting. In 1965, following a civil rights movement demonstration in Selma, Alabama, which ended in bloodshed, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act (VRA) making discriminatory practices that disenfranchised voters illegal. Two years ago, in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court invalidated the provision of Section 4 of the VRA which required nine states along with regions of six others to get pre-approval from the U.S. Department of Justice for any new election laws or redistricting plans.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruling has resulted in increased voting suppression efforts by multiple states. Thus, fifty years after the passage of the VRA minority communities continue to have to fight for their right to vote. The State of Texas, for example, proposed a stringent voter ID law that aimed to prevent minority voter participation. Yesterday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s ruling that the Texas Voter Identification Law directly violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. LULAC was a main plaintiff in the case, and the decision constituted a win for minority voters in Texas. However, the fight against voter suppression continues.

Instead of celebrating the fifty years of accomplishments under the VRA, we find ourselves battling against those that want to turn back the clock to days when those less fortunate were prevented from voting. However, we cannot be discouraged by such actions. Fifty years ago civil rights leaders were able to protect disenfranchised voters and today we must continue the fight. We need to redouble our efforts and urge Congress to restore the crucial protections provided in the VRA. As it was clearly demonstrated in Texas, minority communities across the country continue to need these protections which only Congress can restore."

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.lulac.org.

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