In late June, the Supreme Court invalidated the heart of the Voting Rights Act. The decision nullified the portion of the law, Section 4, that defines the states and counties covered under Section 5, which requires federal preclearence for changes to voting laws in areas with histories of discrimination. Now, the responsibility falls to legislators to update the list of areas Section 5 covers and to give the VRA back its teeth.
It's time for Congress to act.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has expressed her commitment to restoring the VRA, calling for something called "...the John Lewis Voting Rights Act." John Lewis, now a Congressman from Georgia, was at the forefront of the struggle for voting rights; he led the pivotal first march from Selma to Montgomery, where he was almost beaten to death by Alabama state troopers in the struggle to pass the original VRA.
Texas has already implemented a voter id law—the most restrictive in the nation—that was previously judged to be discriminatory by a federal court and at least five other southern states are pushing to pass harsh new voting restrictions. Meanwhile, a number of GOP leaders in the House have joined the call to protect voting rights, giving some hope that action may be possible. Contact your representatives now and implore them to honor John Lewis's legacy with a new Voting Rights Act.
Women vote in the U.S. presidential election in Los Angeles, November 4, 2008. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
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