Democrats used the 40th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Voting Rights Act to call for renewal of the landmark legislation that outlawed practices meant to keep African-Americans and other minorities from voting.

In the party's weekly radio address, Georgia congressman John Lewis said Congress must renew key provisions of the law that are set to expire in 2007 to honor the legacy of those who died for the right to vote.  Mr. Lewis was among the voting rights activists beaten as they marched on Selma, Alabama in 1965.  That brutal police crackdown sparked outrage that helped lead to approval of the legislation.

The law banned racially biased voting practices such as literacy tests used to keep the large and often poorly educated Black population from voting. It also allowed victims of discrimination to sue local and state governments and authorized federal officials to monitor elections.