This past Aug. 6, marked the 48th anniversary of the signing in law of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, widely recognized as one of the nation's most effective civil rights statutes.

The Voting Right Act was adopted to prevent discrimination in voting, prohibiting state and local governments from imposing any "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color."

Congress especially intended the Act to outlaw the practice of requiring otherwise qualified voters to pass literacy tests in order to register to vote, a major means by which Southern states had prevented African Americans from exercising the franchise. The Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had earlier signed into law the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

A key part of the Voting Rights Act, known as Section 4, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

"Through its decision in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, the U.S. Supreme Court erased fundamental protections against racial discrimination in voting that have been effective for decades," stated Elisabeth MacNanamara, President of the LWV of the United States. "Only strong action from Congress can fix the Court's mistake and that is exactly what we are advocating."

More than 40 years after the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act continues to play a vital role in preventing discriminatory voting measure. Section 4 of the Voter Rights Act helped the U.S. Department of Justice block over 700 racially discriminatory voting measures between 1982 and 2006.

Upon its last reauthorization in 2006 with overwhelming bipartisan support, Congress declared that "without the Voter Right Act's protections, racial and language minority citizens will be deprived of the opportunity to exercise their right to vote."

The impact of the Supreme Court's decision on voters will be significant and far-reaching. This decision will only embolden those who seek to create barriers to voters' rights.

Before the ink was even dry on the decision, several states rushed to implement anti-voter laws that will negatively impact all voters, young and old, rich and poor alike. Sadly, this is only the beginning. Without a strong Voter Rights Act, the ability to fight off anti-voter legislation and keep our elections free, fair and accessible is significantly weakened.

League members throughout the country will be advocating for Congress to fix this issue-to restore the Voter Rights Act to its full strength. This 48th anniversary should be a call to action by those who believe in free and fair access by every eligible voter!

The LWV of Indiana has a voter registration and informational booth "Government Can Work if Citizens are Informed and Involved" in the Exposition Hall at the Indiana State Fair Aug. 2-18. Montgomery County Leaguers will be staffing the booth Friday. Local President Karen Patton encourages all to stop by!