Recent actions of the Supreme Court and GOP-led state governments highlight the importance of the Voting Rights Act in preserving that most fundamental of rights for all Americans.
- Some thoughts from DNC Secretary Stephanie Rawlings-Blake:
Today marks the 48th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. To honor that historic milestone, Democrats launched www.votingrightsmatter.com. This site tells the story of the fight for voting rights and connects the historic struggle to what’s happening today. The Voting Rights Act was a major step forward in protecting and expanding access to the ballot box. However, the Supreme Court’s decision this summer to rule parts of the law unconstitutional opened the door for Republican state legislatures to pass legislation obstructing the fundamental right to vote. In fact, in the last 30 days alone, eleven Republican-controlled states have taken steps to make it harder to cast a ballot.
President Obama and Democratic lawmakers are working together to combat these actions and fight these restrictive laws. As Democrats, we’re not backing down and will continue to fight to expand access to the polls for every eligible voter. From creating the new Commission on Electoral Administration to drafting and signing legislation that expands access to the polls and protects the right to vote, Democrats are working to live up to the potential laid out in the Voting Rights Act. We need your help in the fight to protect voting rights. Please visit www.votingrightsmatter.com to get involved.
- And Virginia State Senator Mamie Locke, Chair of the Virginia Black Legislative Caucus, reflects on Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965:
In its ruling in Shelby County v Holder, the Supreme Court invalidated Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In doing so the Court decimated one of the most sacred pieces of legislation to come out of the Civil Rights Movement. Forty eight years ago today, August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, providing African Americans with the most fundamental of democratic rights—the right to vote. As we commemorate the anniversary of this important legislation, minorities are faced today with fighting the same battles that led to its passage. Some states like Texas and North Carolina have begun to introduce legislation or enact policies that will make it more difficult for minorities to vote. There are also efforts to dilute voting strength through redistricting schemes that seek to minimize the political influence of minority voters. A dysfunctional Congress is not likely to move quickly to adopt a new formula for ensuring that the voting rights of African Americans and other minorities are protected. While many may feel that legislation like the Voting Rights Act is no longer necessary, one need only point to the myriad of voter suppression bills being introduced across the country, most notably in those states previously covered by Section 4, that create obstacles to voting rights. It is most unfortunate that legislation enacted 48 years ago, is still needed in 2013. The right to vote is basic to a democratic society and needs to be protected. Congress must act now to undo the damage caused by the Supreme Court.