On January 16, a bipartisan group of members of Congress introduced the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014, which updates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder.
“Everyone is entitled to fair treatment at the ballot box and today’s bipartisan update to the Voting Rights Act is welcome news for America’s voters,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “While we have made great strides as a country, discrimination is still a reality in too many places. The need for an effective, modern day VRA that responds to 21st century discrimination is vital to our democracy. The VRA has a long history of bipartisan support, so we urge members of both parties to make this legislation a top priority.”
The bipartisan bill was sponsored in the House by Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner, R. Wisc., John Conyers, D. Mich., Steve Chabot, R. Ohio, John Lewis, D. Ga., Spencer Bachus, R. Ala., Bobby Scott, D. Va., and Sheila Jackson Lee, D. Texas., and in the Senate by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D. Vt., Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D. Ill., and Sen. Chris Coons, D. Del. Civil and human rights activists have pledged to work with members of Congress on the bill in order to move it swiftly toward enactment into law.
The bill contains a modern, flexible and forward-looking set of protections that work together to ensure an effective response to racial discrimination in voting in every part of the country. It will
enhance the power of federal courts to stop discriminatory voting changes before they go into effect;
establish a flexible coverage formula that is updated annually to require preclearance for all voter rule changes in places with numerous recent voting rights violations;
require increased transparency through public reporting requirements that will help keep communities informed about voting changes across the country; and continue the federal observer program in order to combat racial discrimination at the polls.
“Although not perfect, this bill is an important first step,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). “There is much more work for Congress, civil rights groups, and communities to do. Our common aim is to ensure that all Americans can participate equally in the political process. The bill released today provides an excellent starting point for public engagement in this process. It’s imperative that we all work together to ensure that no one is denied the right to vote, particularly on account of their race or language minority status.”
Learn more at www.VRAforToday.org and follow the Leadership Conference campaign to move voting rights forward via #VRA4Today.