New Legislation Is Important Step Forward; Bill Can Be Strengthened
Representatives James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), John Conyers (D-MI), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Spenser Bachus (R-AL), John Lewis (D-GA), Sean Duffy (R-WI) and others have introduced the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014, offering common sense fixes designed to modernize the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Demos President Miles Rapoport issued the following statement in response:
“Demos applauds the introduction of the bipartisan Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014, which seeks to repair the damage done to the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder. It updates the VRA in a modern, forward-looking way with the goal of ensuring that all Americans can exercise the fundamental right to vote.
“For over 45 years prior to the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision, the Voting Rights Act stood as a bulwark against discrimination in voting, with strong bipartisan support. Former President Ronald Reagan, who signed one of the extensions of the Voting Rights Act, famously said that ‘the right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties, and we will not see its luster diminished.’
“H.B. 3899 is the latest example of our bipartisan commitment to protecting the freedom to vote. It includes preclearance requirements for jurisdictions with a recent history of voting rights violations; transparency and disclosure requirements for important voting changes; and other key steps to protect the right to vote for all Americans.
“The bill is not perfect and needs strengthening in certain respects, including the provisions regarding photo ID for voting. While the bill does not bar legal challenges to state laws enacting restrictive photo ID requirements, it creates some limitations on remedies regarding photo ID laws that are troubling and extremely difficult to justify. In addition, the bill should be improved to ensure sufficient protections for eligible voters in jurisdictions where populations of color have increased in recent years and may be new targets of voting discrimination.
“But make no mistake: the introduction of this legislation marks a landmark step toward re-confirming our nation’s bipartisan commitment to protecting the right to vote. Demos looks forward to working with our allies and members of Congress to ensure that the crown jewel of American liberties—the Voting Rights Act—is protected and renewed.”