Voting Rights Should Be Expanded

Section

We need to ensure all who want to vote, can vote.

The U.S. government needs to expand voting opportunities in America and support universal voter registrationnot erect new hurdles, like strict voter ID laws.

We support legislative and administrative reforms at the federal, state and local levels to expand voter registration and greater access to voting, including expanded early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, same day registration and voter registration modernization. We also think voting rights should be restored to individuals who have committed crimes but served their time.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 to ensure state and local governments do not pass laws or policies that deny American citizens the equal right to vote based on race. As one of the world's leading democracies, the United States should work to keep voting free, fair and accessible. That’s why the Voting Rights Act is so important. It makes sure every citizen, regardless of race, has an equal opportunity to participate in our great democracy.

On June 25, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Section 4, a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, thereby removing a critical tool to combat racial discrimination in voting. Under Section 5 of the act, jurisdictions with a history of discrimination must seek pre-approval of changes in voting rules. This process, known as “preclearance,” helps to block discrimination before it occurs. In Shelby County v. Holder, the court found that the formula in Section 4—which determines the states and localities covered by Section 5—was unconstitutional, meaning the formula could no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance. The court claimed that a more current coverage formula was needed.

This is a giant step backward and Congress needs to take up legislation to fully restore the Voting Rights Act and ensure all who want to vote, can vote.