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 – Rep. John Lewis will use these prepared remarks today at the SPEAKOUT rally on the East Lawn of the U.S. Capitol at 10:30 AM. He joins other members of the Democratic leadership, other colleagues, and activists in an effort to persuade this Congress to repair the Voting Rights Act. Hailed as the most effective voting access tool this nation has ever employed, the heart of the act—the formula used to apply its power to state electoral systems—was gutted by an ill-conceived U.S. Supreme Court decision. Congress has the ability to repair what was damaged.
“I am not certain what more the White House could do to signal its utter disregard for the democratic process in this country. While we as a nation are trying to evaluate why the FBI director was fired shortly after he requested more funds to continue the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the president moves to establish a so-called “election integrity” commission.
I was sad to learn that Mrs. Amelia Boynton succumbed to her illness early this morning in Montgomery, Alabama. This nation has lost a crusader, a warrior, and a fighter for justice. She was one of the most dependable, reliable leaders to stand up for the right to vote in Selma, Alabama and in the American South.
"I am very sorry to learn that the first African American member of Congress ever elected from Ohio, Rep. Louis Stokes, has died. He was a gifted public servant who brought dignity to the office, not only on behalf of the people of Cleveland and Ohio, but he contributed to the public good of the entire nation.
Across the country, there is a deliberate, systematic attempt to make it harder and more difficult for the disabled, students, seniors, minorities, poor and rural voters to participate in the democratic process. We must not let that happen.
That is why we need to repair and restore the Voting Rights Act now more than ever before. The burden should not be placed on citizens whose rights are violated to mount their own defense.
"I want to thank my friends and colleagues in the Senate: Senators Durbin, Coons and especially Senator Leahy and his staff for coming forth with a piece of legislation to repair and correct the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the Shelby County v. Holder case. I want to thank the representatives of the Tri-Caucuses -- Reps. Sewell, Sanchez, and Chu--for spearheading this effort in the House.
WASHINGTON (Wednesday, June 24, 2015) – Two years since the Supreme Court gutted core protections in the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, states and localities throughout the country have passed sweeping laws that disproportionately suppress the voting rights of minorities. These laws have left voters without the protections they need to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
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.