Tancredo Snubs Voting Rights Act

Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo was one of thirty-three Republicans to not support the Voting Rights Act Thursday, when the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to renew it.

While 390 representatives supported the measure in a bipartisan consensus, Tancredo objected to provisions in the legislation that would require bilingual ballots in voting districts. In the Denver Post, a Tancredo spokesman was quoted saying the following:

“If you’re voting, you’re supposed to be a U.S. citizen,” Tancredo spokesman Will Adams said Friday. “If you’re a U.S. citizen, you’re supposed to be proficient in English.”

Tancredo’s contender in the next election, Bill Winter, was also quoted saying he didn’t follow the logic of Tancredo’s vote:

“What this does is fit into a pattern of votes (by Tancredo) that make absolutely no sense,” Winter said. “I don’t really know what the real reason is why he has these crazy votes, but he does it regularly.”

The historical piece of legislation was made law in 1965, in an effort to outlaw state practices that discriminated against minority voters. It also gave the federal government the right to regulate local voting laws.

House members voted to renew the act for 25 years, reviving federal oversight of voting changes. However, the anti-discrimination section in the law will remain permanent.

Tancredo was also joined by Colorado Representative Joel Hefley in dissenting, although Hefley objected based on his view that the act violated sate rights.

Currently, the legislation is making its way to the Senate, and Republican majority leader Bill Frist is saying that he expects it to pass. There is also a constitutional amendment being proposed that would make voting a constitutional right. 

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.