Democrats and civil rights groups are calling on Congress to act on legislation to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act the Supreme Court eliminated three years ago. “We cannot allow our voices to be silenced and we must do whatever it takes to exercise our right to vote,’’ Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said Saturday. Saturday marked the third anniversary of a Supreme Court decision — Shelby County v. Holder — that threw out a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that determined which states and other jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination had to obtain “pre-clearance” from federal officials before making any election changes. Most of the states were in the South, including Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. This will be the first presidential election without the provision.
Since the Supreme Court decision, several states have adopted new election laws, including voter ID requirements. Proponents say the laws help protect against voter fraud.
Congressional Republicans say the “pre-clearance” provision is no longer needed. “What was struck down were the provisions that absurdly treated the South differently,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky recently told USA TODAY. “They don’t apply anymore. It’s 50 years later.”
Civil rights groups argue the provision is needed more than ever and that many of the new election laws, particularly voter ID rules, are restrictive and aim to diminish turnout of minority voters, including Latinos and blacks.
Full Article: Democrats demand action on voting rights bill.