NYDLC and Civil Rights Advocates Call on Congress to Restore VRA

For Immediate Release: Thursday, June 23, 2016

Contact: (866) NYDLC-01; [email protected]  

During the Shelby County Week of Action, the New York Democratic Lawyers Council (NYDLC) joins civil rights advocates from across the country to call upon Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act (VRA), in order to ensure that all Americans are able to exercise their voting rights without discrimination or difficulty.

Saturday, June 25th marks three years since the Supreme Court, in its 5-4 Shelby County v. Holder decision, gutted key provisions of the VRA, rendering some of its core protections inoperative. In doing so, SCOTUS invalidated the coverage formula that required certain state and local governments with a history of discrimination to obtain federal approval before changes to voting laws could take effect.

As a result, previously active voters have been disenfranchised by restrictive new laws enacted in 17 states, while voting strength of people of color and language minorities has been diluted. Many jurisdictions have taken steps to make it harder to register or cast a ballot, have enacted strict voter ID requirements that disproportionately impact minorities and lower-income voters, and have decreased the time allotted to vote or drastically reduced the number of poll sites.

By refusing to restore the VRA, the GOP-controlled Congress has been complicit in the largest rollback of voting rights protections in 50 years. Abdicating their responsibility to address this matter ahead of the 2016 Presidential election, Republican leadership in Congress has refused to consider two bills with bipartisan support that would breathe new life into the VRA, and prevent discriminatory election law changes for suppressing the fundamental rights of eligible Americans.

NYDLC Co-Chair John Nonna said, "The Supreme Court's decision in Shelby opened the floodgates to voter suppression law in formerly covered jurisdictions. We must fight to restore [Federal] pre-clearance under criteria that would apply to all states seeking to suppress the vote through harsh legislation."

NYDLC Co-Chair Carol Schrager said, "The world looks to America to lead on expanding Democracy and protecting civil rights. Our election laws and processes need to make it easier for eligible voters to make their voices heard, not harder. VRA protections are critical toward this end."

NYDLC Executive Director Jarret Berg said, "Apart from the sorely needed federal oversight safeguard the VRA provides, the Act represents the culmination of more than a century of progress made against systemic racial discrimination and the strengthening of individual civil rights. Congress needs to come together to advance federal legislation to protect voting rights in the states and fix what the conservative wing of the Supreme Court carelessly broke."

Theo Harris, Co-Chair of NYDLC’s Minority Voting Rights Committee explained, “It is with great trepidation that we enter the summer stretch of the first presidential election in 50 years to be conducted without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act in effect. To compensate for the loss of this critical tool, we must come together and organize our communities to protect the vote for all Americans.”

The New York Democratic Lawyers Council (NYDLC) is a coalition of attorneys, law students, and voting rights advocates who share the common goal of protecting each citizen’s right to vote. NYDLC attorneys dedicate their expertise to help ensure that all eligible persons can register to vote easily; all registered voters are able to vote conveniently, fairly, and without intimidation; and, that all votes are counted accurately by transparent and reliable voting systems.

You can Join NYDLC as a 2016 member to help NYDLC protect the rights of voters in New York and key battleground states in or Make a contribution to support NYDLC's work.

Read more (http://bit.ly/28KN0Ht) about the US Supreme Court’s decision and its devastating impact. 

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