Voting rights are under attack in America. Quietly, gradually, state-by-state, the right to vote – a right that many people died to secure – is being taken away. The Brennan Center released a report that shows that voting law changes across the nation will make it significantly harder for more than 5 million voters to exercise their constitutional right to vote. This should not be happening.
Today, we should be making it easy, simple, and convenient to vote. Instead, legislatures around the nation are creating barriers and making it more difficult for citizens to vote. There is not just one law, but many types of laws that are disenfranchising millions of voters: voter photo identification laws, proof of citizenship laws, barriers to registration, elimination of early voting and absentee voting, and laws making it harder to restore voting rights for people who have paid their debt to society. These laws are a barrier to an inclusive democracy. We are stepping backward toward another dark time in our history.
We cannot separate the dangerous trend across this nation from our history and the struggle for the right to vote. Before the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, not so very long ago, it was almost impossible for some citizens to register and vote. Many were harassed, jailed, beaten, and some were even killed for trying to participate in the democratic process.
The right to vote is precious and almost sacred, and one of the most important blessings of our democracy. Today we must be vigilant in protecting that blessing.
The history of the right to vote in America is a history of conflict, of struggling for the right to vote. Many people died trying to protect that right. I was beaten, and jailed because I stood up for it. For millions like me, the struggle for the right to vote is not mere history; it is experience. We should not take a step backward with new poll taxes and voter ID laws and barriers to voting. We must ensure every vote and every voter counts.
The vote is the most powerful, non-violent tool we have in a democratic society. We must not allow the power of the vote to be neutralized. We must never go back.
More on Voting Rights
Voter Empowerment Act (H.R.12) Simplifies and Modernizes the Voting Process
Offering Equal Access for Every Citizen
Comprehensive Legislation Originally Introduced By Rep. John Lewis In The House Of Representatives Would Strengthen Federal Law On Voting Rights
Rally at GA Capitol on National Voter Registration Day: Congressmen to Ensure State's Voters Ready on Election Day
ATLANTA, GA -- On September 25, 2012, National Voter Registration Day, hundreds of metro Atlanta residents will join Reps. John Lewis, David Scott and Hank Johnson along with a cross-section of Atlanta voter rights groups to make sure all eligible voters in Georgia are registered and prepared to vote this fall.
Today Rep. John Lewis participated in a panel discussion in Atlanta commemorating the 49th Anniversary of the March on Washington and honoring Atlanta’s unique civil rights legacy. As the last surviving speaker from that March, Lewis issued this statement, a revised version of an early editorial, honoring this anniversary and anticipating the 50th anniversary of the March next year:
“On August 6th, 47 years ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. We must never, ever forget that people right here in this country suffered, struggled and died simply trying to register and vote. They were trying to exercise a right guaranteed to them by the Constitution but denied to them by the unjust laws and practices of local and state governments."
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. John Lewis (GA-5), along with House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5), Democratic Assistant Leader James Clyburn (SC-6), Rep. John Conyers (MI-14), and Rep. Robert Brady (PA-1), unveiled comprehensive voting rights legislation.
“On this day 44 years ago, the world was in shock. The moral leader of our nation had been shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee. If he were here today, Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud of the progress we have made and the distance we have come toward ending legalized discrimination. However, he would be deeply disappointed that in a world community which witnessed the power of non-violence to resolve human needs, the incidence of violence has not abated, but has actually risen since the days of his campaign.
WASHINGTON—On March 7, 1965, 600 non-violent protestors led by John Lewis, then chair of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and Hosea Williams of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) walked two-by-two in silent protest across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Their intention was to march all the way to the state capital in Montgomery to highlight the need for voting rights protection in Alabama.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) announced that the House will vote this week on a resolution instructing the Office of the Historian to compile testimonies from current and former Members of Congress who have participated in historic or commemorative Civil Rights Movement actions. This resolution offers the opportunity to preserve a powerful and transformative period in American history and has been introduced by members who represent cities in Alabama where landmark events of the movement took place, Rep.