Reiterating the Need to Restore the Vote in 2016by Representative Terri A. Sewell
Posted on 2016-01-05
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Ms. SEWELL of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, today I rise on the first
Restoration Tuesday of the session to reiterate the ongoing and urgent
need to protect the voting rights of all Americans. On behalf of the
constituents we were sent here to represent, we must leave our inaction
on voting rights behind in 2015! Now is the time to Restore the Vote!
It is completely unacceptable that this upcoming election in November
will be our first presidential election in 50 years without the full
protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This Congress has had
over two years to answer the Supreme Court's call to develop a modern
day formula for preclearance. We should be embarrassed by our inaction.
It is past time for this body to Restore the Vote!
Far too many of our constituents will face new barriers to voting
this year. From African American communities in my home state of
Alabama, to Native American communities in Alaska, to Asian American
communities in California and Latino communities in Texas, thousands of
minority communities across America will be met with modern-day
barriers to the ballot box due to our inaction. Any attempt to restrict
a certain portion of our electorate is a threat to our democracy,
whether that is through voter ID laws, the closure of driver's license
offices, or the scaling back of early voting. While these don't appear
as egregious as literacy tests and poll taxes, they represent modern-
day attempts to achieve the same goal--to restrict the vote of a
portion of the electorate. This is a very old strategy used by
individuals in our democracy who wish to silence the voices of entire
groups of people.
Because of the Voting Rights Act, approximately 3,000 discriminatory voting changes were blocked from occurring from 1965 to 2013. In 1970, when the law was expanded to abolish literacy tests and lower the voting age to 18, the impact was significant as 9 million new voters were added to the roles.
As caretakers of our democracy, it is our shared responsibility to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I urge my colleagues to stand with me and renew our commitment towards voter equality. We must pass the Voting [[Page E6]] Rights Advancement Act and help ensure equal access to the ballot box for every American.