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
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, lead sponsors Rep. John Lewis (GA-5), House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5), Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (SC-6), Rep. John Conyers (MI-13), Rep. Robert Brady (PA-1) and more than 170 Democrats reintroduced the Voter Empowerment Act in the House of Representatives. Sen.
WASHINGTON--In a pre-dawn Saturday decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided today to uphold the most restrictive voter ID law in the country. Though a lower court judge ruled the Texas law was unconstitutional due to the possibility that it could impede ballot access of as many as 600,000 registered voters and targets Latino and African American voters in the state, a majority of the Supreme Court ruled in an unsigned decision without explanation. Justice Ginsberg wrote a six page dissent signed by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan.
“Today, the Supreme Court stuck a dagger into the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most effective pieces of legislation Congress has passed in the last 50 years.
These men never stood in unmovable lines. They were never denied the right to participate in the democratic process. They were never beaten, jailed, run off their farms or fired from their jobs. No one they knew died simply trying to register to vote. They are not the victims of gerrymandering or contemporary unjust schemes to maneuver them out of their constitutional 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.