WASHINGTON – On the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, concerned citizens all over the country are calling on Congress to restore the crucial protections of the VRA that were lost in the Supreme Court’s destructive Shelby County v. Holder decision to gut the landmark civil rights law. Advocates are participating in voting rights events in every region of the U.S.
In the two years since the Shelby decision, nearly half of the 50 states have enacted policies that make it harder to vote. A surge of discriminatory voter ID requirements and laws eliminating early voting opportunities have deprived Americans of their fundamental right, and have had an especially harmful effect on people of color, low-income communities, people with disabilities, and students.
Despite public outcry and widespread evidence of voter discrimination, Congress has shirked from its constitutional obligation to protect the right to vote. Unless Congress acts, voters in 2016 will face the first presidential election in half a century where they lack crucial protections in federal law to combat racial discrimination in voting. Congress now has two bills—the Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Voting Rights Amendment Act—to use as vehicles to restore the VRA. Congress has no excuses for failing to act.
Quote from Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:
“Fifty years ago, Congress made history and came together across party lines to enact our nation’s most effective civil rights law. From California to Georgia, Alabama to New York, Americans are demanding that Congress protect their right to vote. As we commemorate the VRA and honor those who fought so hard for it, we also lament that Americans have the weakest voting protections than at any time in the last 50 years. When Congress returns to Washington this fall, its first order of business must be to restore the VRA.”