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The League sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives urging them to act quickly on H.R. 3899, the bipartisan Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 recently introduced by Representatives Sensenbrenner, Conyers, Scott, and Lewis. Members of the League’s Lobby Corps will also be visiting targeted offices on the Hill to deliver this message in person.
TO: Members of the U.S. House of Representatives
FROM: Elisabeth MacNamara, President
RE: H.R. 3899, the Sensenbrenner - Conyers Bill to Modernize the Voting Rights Act
The League of Women Voters strongly urges you to modernize and repair the Voting Rights Act by acting quickly on the bipartisan Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 recently introduced by Representatives Sensenbrenner, Conyers, Scott, and Lewis.
The legislation responds directly and responsibly to the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder by updating the coverage formula for preclearance to ensure it is based on recent acts of discrimination and by providing 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 support H.R. 3899 and move it quickly to final passage.