The Voting Rights Act of 1965 aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote under the 15 amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The United States Supreme Court undermined the Voting Rights Act protections when it invalidated section four of the act in 2013 which no longer held states subject to the preclearance requirement. This requirement said state and local governments with past histories of voter suppression had to get approval in order to make changes to their voting rights laws. A result of this ruling was several states which included Ohio, Texas, Tennessee and North Carolina passed new restrictions around voter ID, early voting or same day registration which have been challenged in court. While we no longer deal with poll taxes and literacy test, voting rights advocates believe statutes that limit early registration, require voters to show photo ID and purge voter rolls, still disproportionately affect the poor and minority voters.
The Republican leadership and other voter ID supporters say they only want to protect the integrity of the vote, but the party goes much further than that with their efforts to end or limit same-day registration as well as early and weekend voting which is used most by minorities. Voting officials in 27 states almost all of which have Republican majorities have launched attempts to purge Black, Hispanic and Asian American voters from the voting rolls. Bernie Sanders, who is running for President has said, “Amazingly enough, we do not have in our Constitution the right to vote as a constitutional right.” Sanders is not alone in his concern, there are no universal standards for registration, voting or vote counting, states maintain bizarrely uneven and contradictory standards according to John Nichols of the Nation. Congress has been slow in renewing the Voting Rights Act and as a result there has been a serious effort by Congressmen James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wisconsin, and John Conyers Jr. D-Michigan, to have Congress renew the Voting Rights Act.
In addition to calling for renewing the Voting Rights Act, there also has been calls for a constitutional amendment to have the right to vote become a guarantee for all Americans, something that is been done in countries which include Germany and Japan. We urge you to contact your elected officials to take action on renewing the Voting Rights Act.