Mr. Vice President, distinguished Members of the Congress, and other distinguished guests:
I am very pleased to sign today H.R. 6219, which extends as well as broadens the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The right to vote is at the very foundation of our American system, and nothing must interfere with this very precious right. Today is the 10th anniversary of the signing by President Johnson of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which I supported as a Member of the House of Representatives.
In the past decade, the voting rights of millions and millions of Americans have been protected and our system of government has been strengthened immeasurably. The bill that I will sign today extends the temporary provisions of the act for 7 more years and broadens the provisions to bar discrimination against Spanish-speaking Americans, American Indians, Alaskan natives, and Asian Americans.
Further, this bill will permit private citizens, as well as the Attorney General, to initiate suits to protect the voting rights of citizens in any State where discrimination occurs. There must be no question whatsoever about the right of each eligible American, each eligible citizen to participate in our elective process. The extension of this act will help to ensure that right.
I thank the Members of the Congress, I thank their staffs, and I thank all the others who have been helpful in making this signing possible.