[JURIST] President Bush signed a bill [HR 9 text, PDF; White House backgrounder] Thursday to reauthorize expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) [text; DOJ backgrounder]. The provisions would have lapsed in 2007, but the reauthorization extends them through 2032. "Today, we renew a bill that helped bring a community on the margins into the life of American democracy," Bush said [official transcript] during a signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. "My administration will vigorously enforce the provisions of this law, and we will defend it in court."
The House of Representatives and the Senate [JURIST reports] passed the renewal bill earlier in July. In June, some conservative Southern lawmakers unexpectedly balked [JURIST report] at two key provisions of the legislation – one requiring nine mostly Southern states with a history of race-based voter discrimination to seek DOJ approval before changing voting laws, and one requiring bilingual ballots in certain areas – that they characterized as unnecessary federal oversight. AP has more.