Voting Rights Act needs amendment
Wednesday, September 03, 2014 12:39 PM
The League of Women Voters is urging Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act Amendment (VRAA) of 2014. In January, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced the Voting Rights Amendment as a workable, common sense solution that would modernize elections process and protect voting rights against discrimination.
In July, the U.S. Senate took an important step holding a hearing on voting rights and discrimination, and the LWV urges the House to move on this as Congress returns from its August recess.
The historic 1965 Voting Rights Act, following the unprovoked attack on peaceful marchers in Selma, Alabama, was passed in response to "Jim Crow" laws and other voting restrictions of minorities, particularly in the deep south.
This law has undergone several changes over the years. But the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 by a 5-4 vote ruled (Shelby v Holder) that the Voting Rights Act had achieved its main purpose and overturned Section 4 of the Act which laid out the formula for determining which states had to seek approval prior to enacting new voting laws.
Critics, including Justice Ginsborg, argue that attempts to restrict minority voting in many southern states are still rampart, citing efforts in states to redraw district maps in order to minimize the will of minorities. The Justices in 2013 ruled the special requirements in the VRA were based on information from the 1960's, leaving the door open for Congress to update the act by coming up with a new formula that complies with the 2013 ruling.
The National Commission of Voting Rights (NCVR), led by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, has released a ground breaking national report reveling where and how minorities continue to experience discrimination in the U.S. "Protecting Minority Voters: Our Work is Not Done" Report offer comprehensive assessment of discriminatory voting practices in the 21st century.
Access to the vote is not about politics, it's about justice and equality. HR 3899 (NRAA)
offers nationwide protections for current threats to voting rights. The legislation provides new tools to stop voting discrimination before it occurs, as well as ensuring the proposed election changes are transparent.
The VRAA is an important step forward for our democracy where the right to vote is not about politics or the outcomes of elections. This legislation will modernize the coverage of the Voting Rights Act to ensure it is based on recent acts of discrimination and provide narrow but appropriate mechanisms in voting nationwide.
The right to vote is one of the most basic rights in our country, and it must be protected. Inaction is not an option. Silence implies consent.
The League of Women Voters is nonpartisan as the LWV does not support or oppose candidates or political parties. The mission of the League is to encourage informed and active participation in government. to work to increase public understanding of major policy issues and to influence public policy through education and advocacy. All men and women are invited to join LWV where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement. For information about the League, visit the website: www.lwvmontco.org or send a message to LWV, PO Box 101, Crawfordsville, IN 47933.