Take a Stand for Voting and Voter Rights

This week we observe National Voter Registration Day, a nationwide-effort to promote civic engagement by empowering individuals to participate in the electoral process. The final push to register voters before the midterm elections is essential, yet we know that our work is also needed to restore critical voting rights protections in our electoral system. In the absence of congressional action, voters will go to the polls this November without key protections contained in the Voting Rights Act for the first time in 50 years.

Protect my voteThe Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation that has been pivotal in helping to bring about significant progress in efforts toward racial equality and justice by addressing racial discrimination in the voting process. It has subsequently been reauthorized four times with strong bipartisan support. In June 2013, the Supreme Court issued a decision in the case of Shelby County v. Holder that suspended the use of the most effective protections against racial discrimination in the Voting Rights Act, thus rendering other sections of the VRA which remain intact to be insufficient alone in ensuring such protections.

Without the protections against discrimination and bias provided by the Voting Rights Act, millions of voters face the prospect of having their right to vote undermined with no meaningful redress.

In light of the court’s decision, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation offering modern, flexible and forward-looking protections against racial discrimination in voting in every part of the country. The Voting Rights Amendment Act (HR 3899/S 1945) provides commonsense fixes to the gaps in voter rights protections created by the Supreme Court decision, while also addressing the Court’s concern about the need to modernize existing law.

Voting is at the heart of the democratic process. It is the most fundamental access point for individuals to have a voice in the public policy decision-making process that can shape the future of our local, regional, national and global collective life. The UCC General Synod has long supported voting rights and addressing obstacles to participation in the electoral process within the broader context of the civil rights struggle. This witness is grounded in the understanding that justice cannot be achieved unless the rules governing the democratic process are fair to all.

Take action! Urge your members of Congress to support the Voting Rights Amendment Act.

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