Cbc Hour: Voting Rights Act, Section 5by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson
Posted on 2013-02-25
JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, as the Supreme Court
prepares to hear arguments in Shelby County v. Holder this week, it is
critical that we recognize the importance of upholding the Voting
Rights Act (VRA) in order to preserve the rights of all Americans. To
strip the VRA of its most effective provision now would be to turn our
backs on millions of Americans who continue to be targeted by
discriminatory voting practices.
The 2012 Presidential Election exemplified the persistent threats that work to disenfranchise voters. Long lines at polling places, the purging of voter registration rolls, and blatant efforts to intimidate select groups of voters have mired the electoral process in many localities. In Texas, two harsh voter mandates were passed in 2012 which were designed to create hurdles to voting with restrictive voter ID laws, and to dilute the voting power of the burgeoning minority population. In a testament to the necessity of the VRA, both measures were blocked under Section 5, preventing inequality of voting rights in Texas.
Historically, Congress has always reauthorized Section 5 of the VRA on a bipartisan basis, and as recently as 2006. The U.S. Department of Justice has filed more than 1,000 objections under Section 5 since 1982, protecting millions of voters from discrimination. The Supreme Court has upheld Section 5 of the VRA four times.
Mr. Speaker, voter disenfranchisement still poses a great threat to the electoral process. The Voting Rights Act is an essential tool in our fight to preserve equal voting rights for all Americans. Through the VRA, Congress has exercised its constitutional authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to ensure voters have free and fair access to the polls. Until there is sufficient evidence to suggest that efforts to suppress minority voters have been mitigated, the Voting Rights Act must be upheld in its entirety.