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Roanoke Rally Calls for Action on Voting Rights

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In a summer of voting rights actions across the nation, more than four hundred activists, including busloads of CWA members, held a rally today in Roanoke, Va., to mark the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's Shelby County v. Holder decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act.

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Above: Democracy Initiative Chairman Larry Cohen, CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre get ready to ride to Roanoke.
Below: Cohen and Democracy Initiative leaders march to the rally site.

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The action spotlights the refusal of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA 6th District) to hold a committee hearing on the need to restore voting rights protections that were stripped away by the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago. We have come to expect this from Rep. Goodlatte, who also blocked a hearing on immigration reform.

CWA, a founding organization of the Democracy Initiative, turned out the rally crowd in partnership with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

"The Voting Rights Act is fundamental to our democracy, and it is outrageous that on the two year anniversary of the Shelby decision, we have yet to even have a single Congressional hearing to fix it," Democracy Initiative Chairman Larry Cohen said. "The Democracy Initiative worked with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to organize the rally in Roanoke and Rep. Goodlatte would be wise to take notice of the growing movement at his doorstep. His obstruction will not go unnoticed as Americans across the country demand full voting rights similar to those in every other 21st century democracy."

"More than 50 years ago, people suffered tremendously for the right to vote," Claude Cummings, CWA District 6 vice president, said. "We thought that battle was won when the Voting Rights Act was passed, but sadly, we must continue to fight against attacks on our right to vote."

Congress has failed to take any action to restore the Voting Rights Act. Yesterday, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA 5th District) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 to begin to correct some of the worst aspects of the Shelby decision. Backed by civil rights groups, this bill is an improvement over a bipartisan milquetoast bill introduced last year that never even got a hearing.

The new bill is expected to garner support from progressive lawmakers because it is tougher but could lose some Republicans.