[JURIST] US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [US DOJ profile] marked the 40th anniversary [speech, text] of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 [US DOJ backgrounder] Tuesday by saying that the Bush administration is working to extend parts of the act which will expire in 2007 [JURIST report]. The Voting Rights Act was originally passed to give African-Americans the right to vote and includes provisions that mandate historically discriminating states to have any proposed changes in voting times, places or methods approved by the US Department of Justice [official website] before taking effect. Another section of the act which will expire in 2007 provides bilingual communicators in areas where English is a second language for many citizens. Gonzales did not specifically say which areas of the act are being extended, but US Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) [official website], chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said that Republicans are drafting a bill which would renew the act for another 25 years. Hearings on the proposed legislation are expected to take place this fall. Reuters has more.