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Editorial Note: This piece was first published on my Huffington Post Blog earlier today.
Forty-seven years ago this week, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the historic Voting Rights Act (VRA) into law to prevent voter discrimination. But as we have seen, the law is not just history; it remains vital TODAY to ensuring that every American can cast a ballot and have it counted.
Even as we celebrate VRA’s 47th Anniversary, unnecessary and costly new state voting laws remind us that voter suppression and intimidation tactics continue to plague our nation.
The League celebrates the VRA today because our roots are in the suffrage movement that achieved voting rights for women; because voting rights for all Americans are an inherent right and the foundation of our democracy; and because, in spite of the law, continued assaults in varied disguises jeopardize voting rights of all Americans, especially the most vulnerable.
But you and I know better than to let these hurdles hold us back. The upcoming election may be one of the most important of our lifetime, and the League is committed to getting voters to the polls. Because when Americans vote in November, the election isn’t just about the day-to-day battles between candidates. It’s about voters like you and me. This election will impact us and our communities – it’s about our jobs, our health, our future. It’s our chance to stand up for what we believe in – and make sure our family and friends do, too. We need to make sure that all of us will have our voices heard and recorded!
Leagues across the country are hard at work to make sure this happens by protecting and extending voting rights. Day in and day out, our members dedicate themselves to protecting the VRA and working to ensure that everyone who wants to vote can cast a ballot.
No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color...
Section 2, Voting Rights Act
Because of states’ efforts to legislate new, unnecessary and costly voting laws, the League has been fighting in the legislatures and courts. We’ve helped defeat voter photo identification laws; where ID laws have passed, we’ve gone to court to block them; and we’ve fought to keep registering voters despite new laws designed to curb organizations like ours from reaching potential new voters.
Just last month, we were in federal court challenging the Texas voter photo identification law. Because of the state's history of discrimination and intimidating certain types of voters, the VRA requires a review of changes to their voting law to ensure they are not discriminatory. Instead of trying to prove the new law isn’t discriminatory, the state of Texas is challenging the constitutionality of the entire Voting Rights Act and seeking to overturn it!
This only underscores how monumental this 47th Anniversary of the VRA is and the need for continued vigilance to protect it.
This election is important. Perhaps the most important ever. Join with your neighbors in voting on Election Day, and be sure to visit www.Vote411.org for all the election information you need. And, share it with family and friends so that they have the information they need to vote in November.