DBQ: The Voting Rights Act Section 203 and Section 5
Should voting materials be published in languages other than English? And should certain countries with a history of discrimination pre-clear any voting changes with the US Department of Justice?
In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, removing the barriers that had kept African Americans disenfranchised. In 1975, Congress amended the act to address voting barriers related to Latino and Native American voters. Section 203 of the law required that voting materials be published in languages other than English in certain areas. Section 5 required that certain countries with a history of discrimination pre-clear any voting changes with the US Department of Justice.
Use your knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement and the documents below to answer the essential question, and questions 1-4.
“Citizens of language minorities have been effectively excluded from participation in the electoral process. Among other factors, the denial of the right to vote such minority group citizens is ordinarily directly related to the unequal educational opportunities afforded them resulting in high illiteracy and low voting participation… The requirements of the law are straightforward: all election information that is available in English must also be available in the minority language so that all citizens will have an effective opportunity to register, learn the details of the elections and cast a free effective ballot.
- - From Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, 1975
“I’m a naturalized citizen now, born in the Phillippines and it just put a smilt to my face as well as the rest of the people in our householf when we get those ballots in Tagalog. We DON”T even jhabe those in the country I cam from so the more I appreciate all the efforts of you guys put into making sure every elligible citizen are able to understand and get infomred with regards to all the candidates and all the measyres by sending them tools in their native languages. America is truly the best country in the world to live in… Proud to be a US citizen… Thanks to all of you and keep up the good work.
- A voter from San Diego County, California
This nation is still subject to the problem that Section 5 was developed to address. Even today, many jurisdictions still respond to growth in minority political power by restricting minority political opportunity. In Texas and Arizona, for example, the Justice Department continues to interpose a significant number of objections; the deterrent effect if Section 5 stops many discriminatory election changes before they are enacted by covered jurisdictions. Despite what you hear from opponents of the Voting Rights Act, the emergency that led to the adoption of Section 5 has not passed. Latino voters have not yet closed the gap in voter registration and turnout in the Southwest…. I urge you today to reauthorize Section 5 with language clarifying congressional intent to prohibit intentional discrimination and to restore ability to elect…
- Nina Perales, counsel to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund , 2005
1. Document B supports the purpose and outcome of which other document?
2. In Document C, a lawyer testifies before Congress, urging it to do what? Why?
3. In Document D, what is the cartoonist’s opinion about American political parties and Latino voting rights?
4. The speakers in Document B and D would most likely agree with?
5. Writing task- Explain why Latinos have focused on expanding voter participation, the obstacles they have faced, and the success they have had. Use the documents, and your own knowledge to support your answer.