The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) was instrumental in responding to many of the discriminatory practices that prevented citizens from voting. In its 54 years of existence, the VRA has made easier access to voting a reality for millions of Americans by reducing voter suppression, removing barriers to political participation, and eliminating many discriminatory practices within the electoral system. The VRA was pivotal then and remains critical today due to ongoing attacks against the right to vote.
While the VRA established a number of important protections, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder significantly undermined it, leaving many open to the same harmful practices that warranted its existence. After the Shelby ruling, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona, for example, passed legislation which interfered with voting rights. Some states shortened early voting windows and increased their use of photo identification requirements which directly impacts working families whose capacity to vote is already very limited.
These and other barriers to voting point to the critical need for H.R. 4, The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA). Among other things, the VRAA would:
- Create a new coverage formula for detecting repeated instances of voting rights violations in the previous 25 years
- Establish a targeted process for reviewing voting changes in jurisdictions across the nation, with focus on changes that have historically been used to discriminate against voters
- Increase transparency by requiring reasonable public notice of voting changes
CWA believes that voting rights are workers’ rights. Working families around the country rely on these protections to ensure that they have the access and opportunity to be participatory members of our democracy and have their voices heard. American families cannot afford to exist in a world without these protections to the electoral process.