The petition to Congress reads:
“Because of a disastrous Supreme Court ruling, the Voting Rights Act is weaker now than when it was passed 50 years ago. Fight to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the Voting Rights Act and block new efforts to suppress African-American and Latinx votes.”
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Every year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day reminds us of the fierce struggle for freedom he helped lead. This year, it also reminds us how far we still need to go to fulfill and defend the gains of the civil rights movement, especially when it comes to voting.
In 2013, the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 bill that protected communities of color against racist voter suppression.1
Congress could have acted immediately to defend every person’s right to vote and fix the damage inflicted by the Court. But the Shelby v. Holder decision tipped the electoral scales in Republicans’ favor, so the Republican extremists who control Congress have done nothing.
Unleashed by the Shelby decision, and by Donald Trump’s near-constant lies about voter fraud, extreme right-wing Republicans – from Congress to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to state legislatures across the country – are doing everything they can to disenfranchise voters and suppress the vote. The Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) would help stop them. We need to build momentum to pass the VRAA now.
It is long past time to repair the damage the Supreme Court inflicted on the Voting Rights Act. Trump and extremist right-wing Republicans relentlessly perpetuate the myth of voter fraud to cast doubt on the electoral process, reinforce racism, undermine the voting power of communities of color and justify laws that suppress the vote. In states across the country, Republicans are doubling down on their efforts to steal elections by enacting discriminatory photo ID laws, cutting back early voting, eliminating polling locations and doing anything else they can think of to make it harder for people to vote.
These efforts are helping Republicans steal elections. The 2016 election was the first presidential election in 50 years in which voters did not have the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. Voting rights experts believe that suppression efforts kept 200,000 people from voting in Wisconsin, a state Trump won by less than 23,000 votes.2 Similar suppression in North Carolina, Florida and Ohio helped hand those states to Trump.3
The 2018 elections will be a massive opportunity to reject Republican extremism and stand up for progressive values. It’s time to pressure Congress to protect every person’s right to vote.
Before the disastrous Shelby decision, the DOJ was empowered to block changes to election law in states or parts of states with histories of voter suppression before they went into effect. Shelby took away that power. Voter suppression rules can still be challenged but not until “after the fact,” which often means voters of color have already been blocked from the polls.
The VRAA would establish the strongest voting rights laws ever passed by Congress. It would require states with a history of recent voting discrimination to clear changes to voting laws with the DOJ, require any new state voter ID laws to be reviewed and approved by the federal government, and block new efforts to suppress African-American and Latino votes.4 The bill would also give the attorney general the authority to send federal election observers to monitor elections in which there’s a risk of voting discrimination.
Republicans in Congress want to steal elections and disenfranchise people of color. They will not help pass the VRAA unless they are under massive pressure to act. We need to start building that pressure now. Can you add your name today?
Tell Congress: Stop voter suppression and pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act. Click the link below to sign the petition:
-Heidi Hess, CREDO Action
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