On the fiftieth anniversary of the VRA, Demos President Heather McGhee released the following statement:
"Next year we will reach a tragic milestone. Voters will head to the polls for the first presidential election in 50 years without strong federal protections to prevent racial discrimination in voting.
After the Supreme Court struck down the centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in Shelby County v Holder in 2013, voting restrictions have proliferated around the country, reversing five decades of progress. For example, almost immediately after the Shelby decision, the state enacted a massive voter suppression bill to obstruct the growing political participation of Black people in the state.. In fact, in the past two years since the Shelby decision, voters have been subject to more discrimination than at any time in the past 50 years.
"Congress must legislate—not just commemorate..."
Just yesterday, a federal appeals court struck down Texas’s stringent photo ID law for violating the VRA. This is a step forward, but a painfully small one. 600,000 citizens were denied their right to vote in last fall’s elections because of this discriminatory law. It took an enormous commitment of time and resources by voting rights groups and the Department of Justice to challenge this law successfully.
Congress must legislate—not just commemorate—by restoring the VRA to provide modern, flexible and forward-looking protections to stop racial discrimination in voting.
A functional democracy is one where all voices are respected and can be heard. As Representative John Lewis put it late last year, “we have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate to do it.” The time for a renewed Voting Rights Act is now."