June 25, 2016 marks the third anniversary of the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision, which invalidated key provisions of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. Unless Congress acts soon, voters will go to the polls in November for the first presidential election in over 50 years without the protections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
As people of faith we hold the conviction that every voice matters and every voice must be heard. If we are to lift every voice, we must do all we can to ensure that no person is stripped of their access to meaningful political engagement by governments and corporate entities that hold tightly to power and expression.
Dale Hicks, a resident of North Carolina and Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan, is one of those citizens who lost his right to vote as a consequence of the Shelby decision. Immediately following the Supreme Court decision in 2013, North Carolina dramatically changed its voting laws without the need to have these changes reviewed by the Department of Justice for potential discriminatory impact. North Carolina ended same-day voter registration, limited early voting and mandated a new voter identification requirement. As a veteran, Dale Hick’s address changes frequently; without same day registration, he was unable to vote in the 2014 midterm elections.
The VRA was an historic step toward eliminating legal barriers to the voting booth. It has been reauthorized four times since its passage with overwhelming bipartisan support. If thousands of voters are not to lose their right to cast their vote and have that vote counted, it is essential for Congress to act now to pass legislation restoring the protections lost as a result of the Shelby decision. The Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore those protections.
Act now – urge your legislators to co-sponsor and support the Voting Rights Advancement Act.