Text: H.R.9 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)

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Public Law No: 109-246 (07/27/2006)

 
[109th Congress Public Law 246]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]


[DOCID: f:publ246.109]

[[Page 120 STAT. 577]]

Public Law 109-246
109th Congress

                                 An Act


 
 To amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965. <<NOTE: July 27, 2006 -  [H.R. 
                                  9]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress <<NOTE: Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa 
Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and 
Amendments Act of 2006. 42 USC 1971 note. 42 USC 1973 note.>> assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and 
Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act 
of 2006''.

SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL PURPOSE AND FINDINGS.

    (a) Purpose.--The purpose of this Act is to ensure that the right of 
all citizens to vote, including the right to register to vote and cast 
meaningful votes, is preserved and protected as guaranteed by the 
Constitution.
    (b) Findings.--The Congress finds the following:
            (1) Significant progress has been made in eliminating first 
        generation barriers experienced by minority voters, including 
        increased numbers of registered minority voters, minority voter 
        turnout, and minority representation in Congress, State 
        legislatures, and local elected offices. This progress is the 
        direct result of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
            (2) However, vestiges of discrimination in voting continue 
        to exist as demonstrated by second generation barriers 
        constructed to prevent minority voters from fully participating 
        in the electoral process.
            (3) The continued evidence of racially polarized voting in 
        each of the jurisdictions covered by the expiring provisions of 
        the Voting Rights Act of 1965 demonstrates that racial and 
        language minorities remain politically vulnerable, warranting 
        the continued protection of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
            (4) Evidence of continued discrimination includes--
                    (A) the hundreds of objections interposed, requests 
                for more information submitted followed by voting 
                changes withdrawn from consideration by jurisdictions 
                covered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and section 5 
                enforcement actions undertaken by the Department of 
                Justice in covered jurisdictions since 1982 that 
                prevented election practices, such as annexation, at-
                large voting, and the use of multi-member districts, 
                from being enacted to dilute minority voting strength;
                    (B) the number of requests for declaratory judgments 
                denied by the United States District Court for the 
                District of Columbia;

[[Page 120 STAT. 578]]

                    (C) the continued filing of section 2 cases that 
                originated in covered jurisdictions; and
                    (D) the litigation pursued by the Department of 
                Justice since 1982 to enforce sections 4(e), 4(f)(4), 
                and 203 of such Act to ensure that all language minority 
                citizens have full access to the political process.
            (5) The evidence clearly shows the continued need for 
        Federal oversight in jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights 
        Act of 1965 since 1982, as demonstrated in the counties 
        certified by the Attorney General for Federal examiner and 
        observer coverage and the tens of thousands of Federal observers 
        that have been dispatched to observe elections in covered 
        jurisdictions.
            (6) The effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has 
        been significantly weakened by the United States Supreme Court 
        decisions in Reno v. Bossier Parish II and Georgia v. Ashcroft, 
        which have misconstrued Congress' original intent in enacting 
        the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and narrowed the protections 
        afforded by section 5 of such Act.
            (7) Despite the progress made by minorities under the Voting 
        Rights Act of 1965, the evidence before Congress reveals that 40 
        years has not been a sufficient amount of time to eliminate the 
        vestiges of discrimination following nearly 100 years of 
        disregard for the dictates of the 15th amendment and to ensure 
        that the right of all citizens to vote is protected as 
        guaranteed by the Constitution.
            (8) Present day discrimination experienced by racial and 
        language minority voters is contained in evidence, including the 
        objections interposed by the Department of Justice in covered 
        jurisdictions; the section 2 litigation filed to prevent 
        dilutive techniques from adversely affecting minority voters; 
        the enforcement actions filed to protect language minorities; 
        and the tens of thousands of Federal observers dispatched to 
        monitor polls in jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act 
        of 1965.
            (9) The record compiled by Congress demonstrates that, 
        without the continuation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 
        protections, racial and language minority citizens will be 
        deprived of the opportunity to exercise their right to vote, or 
        will have their votes diluted, undermining the significant gains 
        made by minorities in the last 40 years.

SEC. 3. CHANGES RELATING TO USE OF EXAMINERS AND OBSERVERS.

    (a) Use of Observers.--Section 8 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 
(42 U.S.C. 1973f) is amended to read as follows:
    ``Sec. 8. (a) Whenever--
            ``(1) a court has authorized the appointment of observers 
        under section 3(a) for a political subdivision; or
            ``(2) the Attorney General certifies with respect to any 
        political subdivision named in, or included within the scope of, 
        determinations made under section 4(b), unless a declaratory 
        judgment has been rendered under section 4(a), that--
                    ``(A) the Attorney General has received written 
                meritorious complaints from residents, elected 
                officials, or civic participation organizations that 
                efforts to deny or abridge the right to vote under the 
                color of law on account of

[[Page 120 STAT. 579]]

                race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set 
                forth in section 4(f)(2) are likely to occur; or
                    ``(B) in the Attorney General's judgment 
                (considering, among other factors, whether the ratio of 
                nonwhite persons to white persons registered to vote 
                within such subdivision appears to the Attorney General 
                to be reasonably attributable to violations of the 14th 
                or 15th amendment or whether substantial evidence exists 
                that bona fide efforts are being made within such 
                subdivision to comply with the 14th or 15th amendment), 
                the assignment of observers is otherwise necessary to 
                enforce the guarantees of the 14th or 15th amendment;
        the Director of the Office of Personnel Management shall assign 
        as many observers for such subdivision as the Director may deem 
        appropriate.

    ``(b) Except as provided in subsection (c), such observers shall be 
assigned, compensated, and separated without regard to the provisions of 
any statute administered by the Director of the Office of Personnel 
Management, and their service under this Act shall not be considered 
employment for the purposes of any statute administered by the Director 
of the Office of Personnel Management, except the provisions of section 
7324 of title 5, United States Code, prohibiting partisan political 
activity.
    ``(c) The Director of the Office of Personnel Management is 
authorized to, after consulting the head of the appropriate department 
or agency, designate suitable persons in the official service of the 
United States, with their consent, to serve in these positions.
    ``(d) Observers shall be authorized to--
            ``(1) enter and attend at any place for holding an election 
        in such subdivision for the purpose of observing whether persons 
        who are entitled to vote are being permitted to vote; and
            ``(2) enter and attend at any place for tabulating the votes 
        cast at any election held in such subdivision for the purpose of 
        observing whether votes cast by persons entitled to vote are 
        being properly tabulated.

    ``(e) <<NOTE: Investigation. Reports.>> Observers shall investigate 
and report to the Attorney General, and if the appointment of observers 
has been authorized pursuant to section 3(a), to the court.''.

    (b) Modification of Section 13.--Section 13 of the Voting Rights Act 
of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973k) is amended to read as follows:
    ``Sec. 13. (a) The assignment of observers shall terminate in any 
political subdivision of any State--
            ``(1) with respect to observers appointed pursuant to 
        section 8 or with respect to examiners certified under this Act 
        before the date of the enactment of the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa 
        Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization 
        and Amendments Act of 2006, whenever the Attorney General 
        notifies the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, or 
        whenever the District Court for the District of Columbia 
        determines in an action for declaratory judgment brought by any 
        political subdivision described in subsection (b), that there is 
        no longer reasonable cause to believe that persons will be 
        deprived of or denied the right to vote on account of race or 
        color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in 
        section 4(f)(2) in such subdivision; and

[[Page 120 STAT. 580]]

            ``(2) with respect to observers appointed pursuant to 
        section 3(a), upon order of the authorizing court.

    ``(b) A political subdivision referred to in subsection (a)(1) is 
one with respect to which the Director of the Census has determined that 
more than 50 per centum of the nonwhite persons of voting age residing 
therein are registered to vote.
    ``(c) A political subdivision may petition the Attorney General for 
a termination under subsection (a)(1).''.
    (c) Repeal of Sections Relating to Examiners.--Sections 6, 7, and 9 
of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973d, 1973e and 1973g) are 
repealed.
    (d)  Substitution of References to ``Observers'' for References to 
``Examiners''.--
            (1) Section 3(a) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 
        1973a(a)) is amended by striking ``examiners'' each place it 
        appears and inserting ``observers''.
            (2) Section 4(a)(1)(C) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 
        U.S.C. 1973b(a)(1)(C)) is amended by inserting ``or observers'' 
        after ``examiners''.
            (3) Section 12(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 
        U.S.C. 1973j(b)) is amended by striking ``an examiner has been 
        appointed'' and inserting ``an observer has been assigned''.
            (4) Section 12(e) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 
        U.S.C. 1973j(e)) is amended--
                    (A) by striking ``examiners'' and inserting 
                ``observers''; and
                    (B) by striking ``examiner'' each place it appears 
                and inserting ``observer''.

    (e) Conforming Changes Relating to Section References.--
            (1) Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 
        1973b(b)) is amended by striking ``section 6'' and inserting 
        ``section 8''.
            (2) Subsections (a) and (c) of section 12 of the Voting 
        Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973j(a) and 1973j(c)) are each 
        amended by striking ``7,''.
            (3) Section 14(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 
        U.S.C. 1973l(b)) is amended by striking ``or a court of appeals 
        in any proceeding under section 9''.

SEC. 4. RECONSIDERATION OF SECTION 4 BY CONGRESS.

    Paragraphs (7) and (8) of section 4(a) of the Voting Rights Act of 
1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973b(a)) are each amended by striking ``Voting Rights 
Act Amendments of 1982'' and inserting ``Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, 
and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments 
Act of 2006''.

SEC. 5. CRITERIA FOR DECLARATORY JUDGMENT.

    Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973c) is 
amended--
            (1) by inserting ``(a)'' before ``Whenever'';
            (2) by striking ``does not have the purpose and will not 
        have the effect'' and inserting ``neither has the purpose nor 
        will have the effect''; and
            (3) by adding at the end the following:

    ``(b) Any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or 
standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting that has the 
purpose of or will have the effect of diminishing the ability

[[Page 120 STAT. 581]]

of any citizens of the United States on account of race or color, or in 
contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 4(f)(2), to elect 
their preferred candidates of choice denies or abridges the right to 
vote within the meaning of subsection (a) of this section.
    ``(c) The term `purpose' in subsections (a) and (b) of this section 
shall include any discriminatory purpose.
    ``(d) The purpose of subsection (b) of this section is to protect 
the ability of such citizens to elect their preferred candidates of 
choice.''.

SEC. 6. EXPERT FEES AND OTHER REASONABLE COSTS OF LITIGATION.

    Section 14(e) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973l(e)) 
is amended by inserting ``, reasonable expert fees, and other reasonable 
litigation expenses'' after ``reasonable attorney's fee''.

SEC. 7. EXTENSION OF BILINGUAL ELECTION REQUIREMENTS.

    Section 203(b)(1) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 
1973aa-1a(b)(1)) is amended by striking ``2007'' and inserting ``2032''.

SEC. 8. USE OF AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY CENSUS DATA.

    Section 203(b)(2)(A) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 
1973aa-1a(b)(2)(A)) is amended by striking ``census data'' and inserting 
``the 2010 American Community Survey census data and subsequent American 
Community Survey data in 5-year increments, or comparable census data''.

SEC. 9. STUDY AND REPORT.

    The Comptroller General shall study the implementation, 
effectiveness, and efficiency of the current section 203 of the Voting 
Rights Act of 1965 and alternatives to the current implementation 
consistent with that section. The Comptroller General shall report the 
results of that study to Congress not later than 1 year after the date 
of the enactment of this Act.

    Approved July 27, 2006.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 9 (S. 2703):
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

HOUSE REPORTS: No. 109-478 (Comm. on the Judiciary).
SENATE REPORTS: No. 109-295 accompanying S. 2703 (Comm. on the 
Judiciary).
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 152 (2006):
            July 13, considered and passed House.
            July 20, considered and passed Senate.
WEEKLY COMPILATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS, Vol. 42 (2006):
            July 27, Presidential remarks.

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