Voting Rights Act Reauthorization 2006

Attorney: Natalie A. Landreth

Under the auspices of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, NARF has drafted the first comprehensive report on the impact of and continuing need for the Voting Rights Act in Alaska. The two provisions being considered for reauthorization in 2006 were Section 203, which provides that election materials must be provided in languages other than English where necessary, and the “preclearance” rules that require a state to submit its proposed election law changes to the Department of Justice before implementing them. Alaska is currently subject to both provisions. As home to the largest percentage of indigenous population of any state in the United States (19%), Alaska is a very important measure of the impact and effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act. The report was completed in February 2006 and was distributed to members of Congress as well as members of the Alaska State Legislature. In general, it concluded that Alaska had never lived up to the mandate of Section 203 in that it had never provided consistent oral translation or any bilingual written materials in elections for the Native communities in Alaska. Co-author Natalie Landreth was then summoned to testify about the report’s findings before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in May of this year. The report was used throughout the reauthorization process and we are happy to report that the VRA Reauthorization passed the House and Senate in July and it is now law. NARF Alaska continues to advocate for the rights of Alaska Natives by engaging in voter education initiatives to apprise villages of their rights under the VRA.

Voting Rights in Alaska 1982-2006: A Report of RENEWTHEVRA.ORG, prepared by Natalie Landreth and Moira Smith, March 2006

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