Friday, August 05, 2016

Cleaver: We must protect the voting rights of all Americans

(From Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

Tomorrow marks the 51st anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. Three years ago, inShelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court invalidated a key component of the VRA that prevented discrimination before it occurred. Since then, the right to vote has been under coordinated attack around the country. New restrictions have been put in place in 22 states since 2010, making it harder for millions of Americans to exercise their right to vote.

In Shelby County v. Holder, which has been called “a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act”, Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged the ongoing persistence of voter discrimination and invited Congress to come up with a new coverage formula based on current conditions. Two bipartisan bills in Congress would do so, but neither has been brought to the Floor for a vote.

Actions speak louder than words. We cannot continue to say we as a body support voting rights, while refusing to restore the Voting Rights Act. This is why I am proud to have signed a discharge petition to bring to the House Floor and bring an immediate vote on bipartisan legislation to restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Act is the most successful piece of civil rights legislation in history. Its serious weakening and the coordinated attack on voting rights around the country are a direct threat to the strength of our democracy. Congress has an obligation and the responsibility to address this threat through federal legislation to restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act.

In the greatest democracy on earth, the path to the ballot box should be clear and unfettered. We must renew our commitment to protecting the right to vote for all Americans.

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