A Challenged Voting Rights Act Turns 56
This Friday, August 6, marks the 56th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act, which enabled hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised Black Americans to register to vote.
Enacted in 1965, the Voting Rights Act has long been hailed as the most successful piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by the U.S. Congress. Yet, despite its legacy, voting rights advocates and communities across the country continue to fight for the same rights that have been methodically stripped away over decades.
- In recent years, waves of restrictive voting laws pushed by Republicans in states across the nation, including in North Carolina, and the GOP-controlled Supreme Court, have steadily chipped away at election laws and voter protections.
- According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 18 states have passed 30 restrictive voting laws that range from making mail-in voting harder to enacting voter ID requirements and purging voter rolls. More than 400 bills in 49 states with restrictive voting provisions have been introduced in the 2021 legislative sessions.
- In North Carolina, Republicans have pushed anti-voter bills; Senate Bills 326, 724 and 725 which are aimed at securing the GOP’s hold on power by any means, regardless of our communities’ need for relief, our state’s recovery or the impact their discriminatory bills cause.
- These bills are just the latest in a long history of Republicans’ disenfranchising eligible North Carolina voters, especially Black and Brown voters who already have difficulty accessing different voting options due to systemic racism and historical GOP voter suppression efforts such as gerrymandering and voter ID.
The wave of GOP anti-voter bills across the country reflects Republicans’ desire to maintain power, silence our voices and block our trusted election officials from conducting safe and fair elections.
With the start of redrawing of congressional maps coming soon, now more than ever, lawmakers must pass legislation that will guarantee fair maps that reflect the will of the voters and ensure that we can safely and freely cast our ballots.
Amid the 56th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act, our lawmakers must protect our sacred right to vote from the GOP’s malicious anti-voter efforts, and make the promise of democracy real for us all.
Our leaders must exercise their majority, eliminate the filibuster, and pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in order to create national standards to ensure that we can safely and freely cast our ballots, have our voices heard, and elect leaders who deliver on our priorities.