WASHINGTON –Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement after Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush said that he would not sign a reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act if elected president. When speaking on the Voting Rights Act at an event today in Iowa, Bush said “If it’s to reauthorize it to continue to provide regulations on top of states as though we are living in 1960…I don’t believe that we should do that. There has been dramatic improvement in access to voting. I mean, exponentially better improvement… So I don’t support reauthorizing it as is.”
“Throughout this campaign, Gov. Bush has shown a troubling animus toward voters of color—claiming that they are looking for ‘free stuff’ or declaring that voting discrimination is a thing of the past.
As Florida’s Governor, Jeb Bush oversaw the wrongful purge of thousands of Black voters from Florida’s voting roles, leading to a Voting Rights Act lawsuit against the state. Florida is now largely known for its seven-hour voting lines in African-American precincts.
We refuse to believe that this is the permanent state of the current Republican Party. Past reauthorizations of the Voting Rights Act have been signed by Republican presidents like Jeb Bush’s own brother and Ronald Reagan, who both knew that our democracy is stronger when everyone can participate in it.
Our next president has a responsibility to govern on behalf of all Americans. We urge Gov. Bush to reconsider his position and join the majority of Americans—and Republicans—who support the Voting Rights Act.”
Wade Henderson is 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, visit www.civilrights.org.