WASHINGTON—Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement after Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) became the first Republican co-sponsor of the Voting Rights Advancement Act (S. 1659):
“Senator Lisa Murkowski’s decision to co-sponsor the Voting Rights Advancement Act sends a clear signal to Congress that, as history shows, both parties can work together to restore the VRA.
Alaska is one of the most diverse states in the nation and Alaskans know just how tenuous voting rights are without federal protection. Today is a testament to the efforts of thousands of Alaskans who have spoken up for years about voting discrimination in their communities, including people like Julie Kitka, president of the Alaska Federation of Natives, Natalie Landreth, a leading advocate with the Native American Rights Fund, and Reverend Alonso Patterson of Shiloh Baptist Church in Anchorage.
It has been a month since the nation commemorated the struggle and sacrifice that lead to the passage of the VRA 50 years ago. But voting discrimination continues to plague our country. Congress cannot continue to ignore widespread voting discrimination in places as far and wide as Alaska, California, Texas, North Carolina, and Virginia. Both the House and Senate should move quickly this fall to hold hearings to review the evidence and to move forward with a VRA restoration.
We applaud Senator Murkowski for championing this effort and encourage her fellow Republicans in the House and Senate to join with her to restore the bipartisan Voting Rights Act.”
Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.