U.S. House May Gut Voting Rights Act Today

People For the American Way vehemently opposes amendment that would disenfranchise American citizens by using ‘power of the purse’ to block enforcement of VRA Section 203

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House today will consider an amendment to an appropriations bill that would block the Justice Department from enforcing a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act calls for the provision of minority language ballots and other assistance to U.S. voters. The amendment, which has been introduced by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fl.), would prohibit the Justice Department from spending any federal funds to enforce Section 203. People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas issued the following statement about the upcoming vote:

“The attempt in the House today to block enforcement of the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act is yet another attempt by the Republican majority to suppress the votes of American citizens, and it is wrong. Ballots in languages from Spanish to Japanese to Lakota help American citizens cast informed votes and give them confidence in the voting process.

“The plain fact is, if no special language ballots are available, many longtime voters will be discouraged from voting, and many new citizens will be denied the fullest possible understanding and participation in the process—they will essentially be denied their right to vote.

“We see it over and over again across the country—Republican attempts to limit access to the ballot box for millions of Americans. Democracy works best when more Americans are involved in the political process, not fewer. Why do House Republicans appear so eager to keep people away from the polls? Why don’t House Republicans want American citizens to vote?”

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