ACLU asks Senator Rob Portman to Restore the Voting Rights Act
Updated 11/15/2016: In June, we asked you to write to Senator Rob Portman urging him to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act. The VRAA would have compelled states with a documented history of discrimination to clear voting changes with the federal government. We wanted to bring attention to restrictive voter ID laws and election rules that disproportionally affected voters of color, the elderly, students and individuals with disabilities.
Since 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the original Voting Rights Act, 17 states, including Ohio, have passed restrictions on voting, ranging from what ID is required, to cutting back early voting, to changing and combining polling stations without notice. By supporting the VRAA, Senator Portman could have stopped these threats to our voting rights, but he has yet to support this necessary bill and the 2016 presidential race was the first that did not have the full protection of the original Voting Rights Act.
Voters across the country were purged from the voting rolls, including hundreds of thousands in Ohio and North Carolina, and required to obtain new identification to cast a ballot. Measures were passed by state legislatures to suppress and restrict the vote of many passionate and patriotic Americans. Stopping those efforts would have been possible with the passage of the VRAA.
The ACLU of Ohio will continue working with our coalition partners to support the VRAA, which can be tracked on the U.S. Congress website.
The Voting Rights Act of 1968 (VRA) is one of the most significant civil rights advancements in modern history. We are urging Senator Rob Portman to co-sponsor legislation to fully restore it.
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key piece of the VRA. As a result, states, counties and municipalities with a history of disenfranchising minority voters no longer had to seek federal approval before changing their voting laws. The very next day after the Supreme Court decision, Texas and Mississippi officials made plans to enforce new photo ID laws that had previously been blocked by the VRA. Since then, the deluge of restrictions has continued.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) will compel states with a well-documented history of voting discrimination to clear voting changes with the federal government, seek federal approval for voter ID laws and prohibit changes to election rules that might make it more difficult for voters of color to cast a ballot. This requirement will ensure that voters are not unfairly discriminated against, have equal access to the ballot, and have their vote counted in the November 2016 presidential election.
The VRAA has bi-partisan support in the U.S. Senate. We urge Senator Rob Portman to co-sponsor the VRAA and safeguard the right to vote for all eligible voters.