Voting rights are under attack! I know it is hard to believe that in 2014, efforts are still underway to prevent Americans from taking part in the most essential part of our democracy—voting. However, there is a lot to be concerned about as voting rights are under attack in states all across the country.
There are several organizations working to stop the tide and return all voting rights to voters in states where big, ugly changes have been made and to extend protections that remain under the law. Let’s review what is going on across the country.
Last year’s United States Supreme Court decision in the Shelby vs. Holder case made it easier for states to discriminate against some voters—particularly those living in Southern states. The decision said that some States no longer needed federal permission to make changes to their voting laws/regulations. For years, this permission was required in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. To make any changes States had to prove that the change would not harm voters or limit their ability to vote. Well, that protection is now gone and States can do pretty much whatever they want—and some have taken some radical steps to suppress the vote.
Check out the Map of Shame created by the awesome folks at the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law that shows which states are engaged in very scary voter suppression activities designed to keep voters away from the polls.
The infographic below from the Advancement Project shows how voters are being impacted in Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The news is just not good for Sisters (and Brothers) who should be able to vote without fear or some other barrier getting in the way.
There is a chance to undo the damage done by the Supreme Court decision. The Voting Rights Amendments Act of 2014 was introduced by Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and John Conyers (D-MI) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and restore voting rights in some States. This is an important first step and represents the types of bipartisan (Democrats and Republicans) effort needed to ensure that voting rights are protected for all voters.
What can YOU do?
There are three things you can do TODAY to make a difference and help protect voting rights!
- Read this 2-page brief from The Advancement Project about the Voting Rights Amendments Act of 2014 that would restore the voting rights in some (not all) of the States.
- Contact your member of Congress and let them know about the Voting Rights Amendments Act and that you expect them to take action to prevent voter discrimination.
- Support the great organizations working to protect the right to vote. They cannot continue the fight and protect the rights of voters without our help. Give what you can and encourage others to give.
Finally, take a moment today to verify your voter registration status and tell your family and friends to do the same. Click here to make sure that your registration is current. If it is not current, correct your voter registration to make sure that you are eligible to vote in your state’s primaries and general election in November.
The civil rights movement is NOT OVER! If we don’t pay close attention to the bad actors trying to take us back to the ‘bad old days’ we might find ourselves without the rights that we need to be full participants in our democracy. Don’t sleep—voting rights are under attack!