California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly Joint ResolutionNo. 13


Introduced by Assembly Member Ridley-Thomas

April 7, 2015


Assembly Joint Resolution No. 13—Relative to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AJR 13, as introduced, Ridley-Thomas. The Voting Rights Act of 1965

This measure would recognize August 6, 2015, as the 50th anniversary of the signing of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. This measure would also urge the Congress and President of the United states to continue to secure citizens’ right to vote and remedy any racial discrimination in voting.

Fiscal committee: no.

P1    1WHEREAS, Signed into law on August 6, 1965, by President
2Lyndon B. Johnson, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark
3piece of federal legislation in the United States; and

4WHEREAS, One hundred and forty-five years ago, in 1870,
5Congress ratified the 15th Amendment, which declared that the
6right to vote shall not be denied or abridged on the basis of race,
7color, or previous condition of servitude; and

8WHEREAS, By 1910, violence and intimidation resulted in
9nearly all black citizens being disenfranchised and removed from
10the voter rolls in the former Confederate States, undermining the
11promise of equal protection under the law; and

P2    1WHEREAS, Native American, Latino, and Asian
2American/Pacific Islander communities experienced similar
3attempts to disenfranchise citizens in their communities throughout
4the United States; and

5WHEREAS, Between 1870 and 1965, voters faced,
6“first-generation barriers,” such as poll taxes, literacy tests,
7vouchers of “good character,” disqualification for “crimes of moral
8turpitude”, and other tactics intended to keep African Americans
9from the polls on Election Day; and

10WHEREAS, During the 1920s, African Americans in Selma,
11Alabama formed the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL).
12During the 1960s in partnership with organizers from the Student
13Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the DCVL held registration
14drives and classes to help African Americans in Dallas County
15pass the literacy tests required to register to vote. On March 7th,
161965, the first march from Selma to Montgomery took place. The
17march, nicknamed “Bloody Sunday” for the horrific attack on
18unarmed marchers by armed police, was broadcast nationwide and
19led to a national outcry for the passage of the Voting Rights Act;
20and

21WHEREAS, Often regarded as one of the most effective civil
22rights laws, the Voting Rights Act was passed with the intent to
23ban discriminatory voting policies at all levels of government; and

24WHEREAS, The Voting Rights Act is credited for the
25enfranchisement of millions of minority voters as well as the
26diversification of the electorate and legislative bodies throughout
27all levels of government; and

28WHEREAS, Before Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act was
29added in 1975, language minorities were disenfranchised from the
30electoral process. Section 203 required certain jurisdictions to
31provide registration or voting notices, forms, instructions,
32assistance, or other materials and information regarding the
33electoral precess in the language of the applicable minority group;
34and

35WHEREAS, In June of 2013, the Supreme Court struck down
36key sections of the Voting Rights Act that were designed to prevent
37discriminatory voting policies that can disenfranchise minority
38voters; and

P3    1WHEREAS, Despite 50 years of progress, racial minorities
2continue to face voting barriers in jurisdictions with a history of
3discrimination; and

4WHEREAS, To build a stronger and more cohesive state and
5nation, we must continue to help advance the cause of voter
6equality and equal access to the political process for all people in
7order to protect the rights of every American; and

8WHEREAS, We must continue to educate the next generation
9about the importance of civic engagement in our communities;
10now, therefore, be it

11Resolved by the Assembly and the Senate of the State of
12California, jointly,
That the Legislature recognizes August 6, 2015,
13as the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act
14of 1965, and recognizes the significant progress made by the
15Voting Rights Act to protect every citizen’s right to vote; and be
16it further

17Resolved, That the Legislature honors and remembers those who
18struggled and died for this freedom; and be it further

19Resolved, That the Legislature urges the Congress and the
20President of the United States to continue to secure citizens’ right
21to vote and remedy any racial discrimination in voting; and be it
22further

23Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies
24of this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United
25States, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to the
26Majority Leader of the United States Senate, and to each Senator
27and Representative from California in the Congress of the United
28States.



O

    99