• In November, millions of Americans spent hours waiting in long lines in order to exercise their right to vote.

  • For many state legislatures, March marks the half-way point of their legislative session, some are already adjourned and some seem to never end.

  • Pledge to Protect the National Voter Registration Act

    The fate of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) now lies with the Supreme Court. For the second time in as many months, the justices are hearing arguments on vital legislation that has encouraged active participation in our democracy for nearly two decades.

  • Second Significant Voting Rights Case Heard by Supreme Court

     Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Arizona v. ITCA, Inc. a critically-important voting rights case that examines whether the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) prevents states from passing laws that restrict the voter registration process. In this case, the League of Women Voters of the U.S. submitted an amicus brief and the League of Women Voters of Arizona was a named plaintiff.

    “The NVRA was intended to and has succeeded in bringing more citizens into the democratic process since its passage in 1993,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “After 20 years, the Supreme Court should not let Arizona’s law trump the Constitution and overturn the NVRA with its proven record protecting the integrity of our election system and increasing access to voter registration in federal elections across the country.”

    “Restrictions on the use of the national voter registration application form like those by Arizona make it much more difficult to register eligible citizens to vote,” MacNamara said. “Independent registration drives by citizen groups like the League are often the only effective means for some voters to get registered and participate in our great democracy.”

    “States should not be allowed to play politics with the voter registration process, the key entry point for political participation in our democracy,” said MacNamara. “This case could send us down a slippery slope toward more and more state restrictions on the voter registration process and the right to vote.”

    “Once again, supposed ‘states rights’ are being used as an excuse to try and prevent people from registering to vote,” according to MacNamara. “We hope the Supreme Court sees this for what it really is – an attempt to keep some U.S. citizens from exercising their right to vote,” she said. 

    “The importance of the two recent Supreme Court voting rights cases – Arizona v. ITCA today and Shelby County, AL v. Holder two weeks ago – really can’t be overstated,” said MacNamara. “The stakes have always been high in the fight to protect and expand voters’ rights but the stakes got a lot higher in 2013.”

    “The Court is currently considering two of the most significant voting rights laws in the modern era,” MacNamara said. “The decisions in either and both of these cases could be game-changers when it comes to protections for the right of every citizen to vote and the work the League and citizen groups like us do to expand participation and the electorate.”

    “It is deeply troubling that the nation’s highest Court might turn its back on the crowning achievements of the civil rights era,” said MacNamara. “Arizona’s law clearly violates a federal law that Congress has clear constitutional authority to enact. As the grassroots organization that led the push for enactment of the NVRA, we are concerned that this case could reverse years of progress,” MacNamara said. “Restricting voter registration is just one way to limit the right to vote,” she said.   

    “Without a strong VRA, voting rights are left without vital protections and without the NVRA, the voter registration process is vulnerable to political manipulation,” concluded MacNamara. “If states win and voters lose before the U.S. Supreme Court, we can expect to see additional states consider an even broader range of restrictions on voting and changes to electoral systems unparalleled since the days of Jim Crow.”

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    CONTACT:  Kelly Ceballos, kceballos@lwv.org

  • This Friday, March 15th at 2:00pm ET, we will co-host a tweetchat with fellow voting and civil rights groups to explain the nation’s strong need for the National Voter Registration Act. Use hashtag #NVRA to join the conversation.

  • On Wednesday, February 27, 2013, LWVUS President Elisabeth MacNamara spoke at the "Protect the VRA" rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. The rally took place while the court heard oral arguments in the case of Shelby v. Holder, a case that examines the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). LWVSC Co-President Barbara Zia also delivered remarks during the rally.

  • The Voting Rights Act Remains Critical Safeguard of the Right to Vote

    Washington, D.C. (February 27, 2013)  – Today, Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S., joined civil rights leaders, members of Congress and activists on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to speak out in support of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA).  This morning the court heard arguments in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, a case that examines the constitutionality of Section 5 of the VRA, landmark legislation that outlaws racial discrimination in state voting practices, and its critical enforcement mechanism.

    “While we’ve made immense progress to expand the right to vote, so much remains to be done, especially as the American electorate continues to diversify,” said MacNamara. “The recent onslaught of anti-voter state legislation further fuels the urgency and need for Section 5 as the tool to keep our elections free, fair and accessible.”

    “Today, the threat to these key principles is real and growing. Anti-voter legislation has swept the country, putting the very foundation of our democracy at risk by erecting new barriers to the polls, restricting voter registration efforts, shortening voting periods and illegally purging voter lists,” MacNamara added.

    “Section 5 has helped transform American democracy from a restricted, segregated past to one of remarkable inclusion,” said MacNamara.  “The enormity of this threat cannot be overstated. The importance of the outcome of this case cannot be overstated. We are here today to sound the alarm and so that the voices of our fellow citizens are not silenced.”

    In their work protecting voters, Leagues around the country have used Section 5 as a critical safeguard to protect the rights of all voters.  The League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters of South Carolina have submitted amicus briefs in this case and were present at the hearings in Washington, DC.

    “For those who argue Section 5 is no longer necessary need look no further than my home state of South Carolina,” said Barbara Zia, President of the South Carolina LWV.  “Using Section 5, the League and our partners were able to battle back and overturn a discriminatory voter ID law. The VRA protected the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians and in doing so protected the very foundation of our great democracy - our right to vote and have our votes counted.”

    “Surely, the problems exposed by the 2012 elections—long lines, shortened early voting hours, and more-- should be an impetus for the Court to more fully enforce the laws that protect our voting rights, not take them away,” concluded MacNamara.  “The thought that the Supreme Court might overrule Congress, and take away voting rights should send a chill down the spine of every American.”

    Contact Kelly Ceballos at kceballos@lwv.org to find out more or to schedule an interview.

  • Civil Rights March

    Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965, a case which will ultimately decide whether millions of voters could face new barriers when trying to exercise their right to vote. The Voting Rights Act is an essential part of American democracy. It ensures that every American citizen, regardless of race, has an equal right to vote.

  • The following is a statement from Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S.:

    Washington, DC -- "President Obama was wrong today when he suggested the consequences of overturning Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act would be merely inconvenient.  With the upcoming Supreme Court case, the President and the nation must not underestimate the importance of protecting and defending the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The League believes that overturning Section 5 of the VRA would have dire consequences and would lead to disenfranchisement for millions of voters. This is the second time in as many weeks that President Obama has disappointed with his remarks regarding voting rights and the importance of fair elections in our democracy."

    Contact:
    Kelly Ceballos
    (202) 263-1331
    kceballos@lwv.org 

  • Last Tuesday during his State of the Union address, President Obama announced his solution to the nation’s flawed voting systems: the formation of a nonpartisan voting commission.

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