The Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 was enormously successful at reducing the persistent and purposeful discrimination against voters of color through literacy tests, poll taxes, intimidation, threats, and violence. For millions of racial, ethnic, and language minority citizens, the VRA eliminated discriminatory practices and removed other barriers to political participation. By requiring states and localities with a history of discriminatory voting practices to submit any proposed changes to their voting laws to a federal preclearance process, the VRA prevented hundreds of potentially suppressive laws from ever hitting the books.
However, in 2013 the Supreme Court struck a massive blow to this crucial civil rights legislation in Shelby County v. Holder, which invalidated the pre-clearance requirement for states. By eliminating this key provision, the Court ushered in a subsequent rash of anti-voter initiatives in state legislatures requiring photo identification, eliminating sameday registration, shrinking early voting windows, and restricting vote by mail and absentee voting.
Key Legislation for 2018:
In direct response to Shelby, and in collaboration with the states and localities most affected by the Court’s decision, the House and Senate worked together and crafted the Voting Rights Advancement Act - modern, flexible, forward-looking legislation designed to protect 21st century voters. Critically, this bi-partisan legislation enhances the ability to apply preclearance review when needed, allows for greater transparency with nationwide notification, provides nationwide review and remedies for current discrimination, and halts discriminatory voting changes before they take effect.
CWA URGES YOU TO SUPPORT THE VOTING RIGHTS ADVANCEMENT ACT (H.R. 3239/S. 1419)
The Voter Empower Act (VEA) aims to guarantee the right to cast a ballot, while also modernizing voting systems, and demanding accountability of elections officials. The VEA would expand early voting procedures, provide funding for states and localities to modernize their voting systems and elections processes, and would create stronger national oversight through reauthorization of the Elections Assistance Commission. Such provisions would go a long way toward preserving the integrity of our elections process and expanding the right to vote to those communities who are too often denied the right to cast a ballot because of suppressive laws and procedures.
CWA URGES YOU TO SUPPORT THE VOTER EMPOWERMENT ACT OF 2017 (H.R. 12/ S.1437)