07/18/2006

Senate to Debate Renewal of Voting Rights Act

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote this week to renew key elements of the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law outlawing poll taxes, literacy tests and other tactics designed to keep blacks from casting ballots.

The legislation was approved 390-33 by the House last week after conservative lawmakers, mostly from the South, lost their bid to remove provisions such as continued Justice Department oversight of their states' voting procedures and bilingual ballots. President Bush has voiced his support for the bill.

The House debate included some dramatic moments as Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, showed photographs of civil rights activists who were beaten by Alabama state troopers during their historic march from Selma to Montgomery in support of voting rights in 1965.

"I almost died," Lewis told lawmakers during the debate, according to the Associated Press. "I gave blood; some of my colleagues gave their very lives."

Find out more about the Voting Rights Act.