Voting Rights Act Turns 50 – Congress Must Restore Its Protections
August 6, 2015 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). This landmark civil rights legislation has protected voters from discrimination for nearly half a century. The VRA is one of the most significant laws ever passed by Congress and it changed America. But today, the Voting Rights Act does not offer the same protections it did in 1965.
Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted key provisions of the VRA in its Shelby County v. Holder decision, weakening vital voter protections. Since then Congress has done nothing to repair the damage. Congress currently has before it various proposals, but there’s been no action, no legislation passed. As a result, voter discrimination at ballot boxes across the nation has become more pronounced and we are dangerously close to holding our first presidential election in 50 years without critical protections once embodied in the VRA.
Each and every eligible American voter deserves to be treated fairly and have free and equal access to the ballot. During the August congressional recess, voters should be loud and clear that the right to vote is fundamental to our democracy. Tell Congress it’s time to restore the VRA. The League of Women Voters has been standing its ground in the fight against discrimination and for voting rights protections for 95 years, and restoring the VRA is an important step to keep our elections fair, free and accessible.