23 February 2006

Report Details Bias at Voting Polls


Unfair tactics and confusing rules still make it tough for many minorities to cast election ballots, and the barriers are so common that the federal safeguards for voters must be renewed, a detailed new report from a civil rights group says.

"Protecting Minority Voters: The Voting Rights Act, 1982-2005" pulls together research and testimony from voters around the country to urge lawmakers to renew the parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that will expire in August 2007.

[...] The 125-page report was to be released at a Washington, D.C. news conference on Tuesday. Among its findings:

Polling places and voting hours in minority neighborhoods are routinely changed shortly before elections.

Election officials were found to have illegally purged voter lists and refused to translate election materials for citizens who are not fluent in English.

[...] Congress first passed the law in August 1965, months after black protesters trying to secure voting rights in Selma, Ala., were attacked by whites on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Before then, it was common for jurisdictions especially in the South to make black voters take literacy tests and pay poll taxes before voting.

Key sections set to expire give federal officials unusual authority to oversee elections in states that have historically had problems with racial bias. They can send in election monitors, force states to translate voting materials or require states to get Department of Justice approval before changing election procedures.


National Commission on the Voting Rights Act >>

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