This morning, I joined with leaders from Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCR), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the NAACP at a press conference to urge Congress to begin moving the bipartisan Voting Rights Amendment Act by holding a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.
The past year has been one of profound emotions for those working to protect the right to vote. The League was dismayed by the Supreme Court’s decision almost a year ago gutting key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. At the same time, we hoped that the outcome in the Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder case would serve as a rallying cry for those who believe in free and fair access to the polls and the right for every eligible voter to cast a ballot.
Along with our voting rights coalition partners, we turned to Congress to act quickly to restore the vital voter protections the Supreme Court dismantled. Thanks to the hard work of so many, the League was once again hopeful when the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA) was introduced in Congress in January.
At the time, I spoke out on behalf of our more than 150,000 members and supporters across the country, praising the work of the bipartisan group of legislators that drafted and introduced the bill. These elected officials did something that is rare nowadays: they put 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. Lawmakers came together to forge workable, common sense solutions that would modernize the elections process and protect voting rights against discrimination.
Months later, we are still waiting for Congress to finish what it started. We don’t know what they are waiting for. As national President for the past four years, visiting Leagues in more than 30 states, I can tell you from personal experience, League members will not back down. If Members of Congress are saying they haven’t heard from their constituents on this issue, I don’t know what they are talking about because they certainly have heard from the League of Women Voters. League members are demanding action; in fact our supporters have sent over 35,000 messages to their Representatives and Senators calling for action on the VRAA.
Not only do we have members in every single state, but those members can count on their fellow volunteer activists here in the capitol area to make sure that every Member of Congress gets our message! Our Lobby Corps activists here in the nation’s capital have been visiting Congressional offices for months now advocating for the VRAA.
Our League members in Virginia, for example, have done all they can to reach their delegation, including Representative Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Recently, they published multiple letters in their local papers encouraging him to call a hearing on the bill and hoping the message of Virginia voters would get through to him.
Our members are undertaking similar efforts in other states as well. Our voting rights and the Voting Rights Amendment Act are too important. We cannot allow politics to stifle this bill.
I was proud to voice the League’s activities and stand with other voting rights leaders this morning to show how serious we all are about protecting voters. The League has been Making Democracy Work® for a long time – more than 94 years – and we certainly aren’t stopping now.