This afternoon, I joined members of Congress and leading civil and voting rights leaders at a press conference to call on Congress to move the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA) forward.
I spoke out about the profound emotions for those working to protect the right to vote. The League was deeply dismayed by the Supreme Court’s decision gutting key provisions of the Voting Rights Act nearly one year ago. At the same time, we were hopeful that the Shelby County case would serve as a rallying cry for those who believe in free and fair elections and the right of every eligible voter to cast a ballot.
I noted our excitement and hope when a bipartisan group of legislators came together to introduce the Voting Rights Amendment Act in January. At the time, I spoke out on behalf of our more than 150,000 members and supporters to praise these elected officials for doing something that is rare nowadays: putting aside politics to govern. Their goal was to ensure that each and every eligible voter is treated fairly at the ballot box and has an equal right and equal access to vote, and together, these lawmakers forged workable, commonsense solutions that would modernize the elections process and protect voting rights against discrimination. Now nearly six months after the bill’s introduction and one year after the Supreme Court decision, we are still waiting for Congress to finish what it started.
I was particularly thrilled to note that the Senate is holding a hearing on the VRAA next week, on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision no less, but we need more. We need the House of Representatives to stand alongside their colleagues in the Senate and to stand up to discrimination by keeping action on the VRAA moving forward.
Sadly, discrimination at the ballot box is real. In just five short months, voters will once again head to the polls in the 2014 elections. And voters will do so without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act afforded to them for more than 40 years. There is no need to put voters’ rights in jeopardy in this election or any other. This isn’t complicated; the VRAA is the remedy that will help ensure equal access to the vote for all eligible voters this fall and for the future generations of Americans to come.
League members do not back down; they demand action. As constituents and voters, League members and supporters have been urging members of Congress to act swiftly on the VRAA, and have sent over 60,000 messages to Congress calling for swift action. Join them and ask the House to schedule a hearing. We cannot allow politics to stifle this bill.
We gathered today as a show of unity and to deliver a message to Congress that the League and our partners are serious about protecting voters. The League has been at this for a long time – more than 94 years – and we certainly aren’t stopping now.