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The League continues efforts to restore the Voting Rights Act with a letter to the House of Representatives. The letter calls for the House Judiciary Committee to move the legislation through the committee process and on to final passage. Members of the League's Grassroots Lobby Corps will also lobby Representatives on this issue.
May 15, 2014
TO: Members of the U.S. House of Representatives
FROM: Elisabeth MacNamara, President
RE: Time for Congress to Act on Voting Rights
The League of Women Voters believes that the House of Representatives needs to take action now on HR 3899, the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014. It is time for the House Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing and mark up this vital legislation.
HR 3899 is a bipartisan response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder. The legislation modernizes the coverage formula for preclearance to ensure it is based on recent acts of discrimination and provides narrow mechanisms to prevent discrimination in voting nationwide.
It is an unfortunate fact that discrimination in voting against racial, ethnic and language minorities continues in America. While incredible progress has been made, due largely but not exclusively to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we still need effective means to stop the discrimination that still exists.
H.R. 3899 has several key elements:
It updates preclearance coverage to cover jurisdictions with a recent pattern of discrimination. This recognizes the progress achieved in many states while maintaining an essential protection for voters where discrimination has continued.
It provides greater transparency for changes in election laws across the nation that could be discriminatory. Public notice was an important element in the original VRA in preclearance states and it make good sense to extend it nationwide.
It provides narrow, carefully crafted tools to prevent discrimination before it occurs. For example, the bill provides a mechanism for concerned citizens or the Department of Justice to ask a court to temporarily stop a potentially discriminatory voting change so the court has time to fully examine it.
H.R. 3899 is an important step forward for our democracy, where the right to vote is not about politics or the outcome of elections. It is about equality and justice. Our nation is strongest when all citizens can participate. The League of Women Voters urges you to move H.R. 3899 through the committee process and on to final passage.