Action Alert: Urge Congress to amend Voting Rights Act

On June 25, 2013,the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Right Act of 1965, massively putting voters from historically disadvantaged communities in danger of arbitrary changes in state election rules and provisions that may be altered without the consultation of a federal judge or the U.S. Attorney General in Washington D.C. The burden to prove discrimination in voter procedure now lies with separable voters. Unless Congress is willing to enact a current, updated procedure of Section 4, the voting rights of many people in the country are no longer protected.

About the Voting Rights Act of 1965

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) voted on a 5 to 4 decision that struck down key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Established during the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, the Voting Rights Act protected minority voting rights at a time when racial discrimination inhibited an individual’s right to vote in the southern states. Although the earlier 15th Amendment in 1870 declared the imposition of poll taxes and literacy requirements for voting unconstitutional, states still participated in similar activities with a lack of a system of checks and balances. This part of the Voting Rights Act, Section 4, provided the formula of which states or counties, who historically created initiatives to ensure that minorities were unable to vote in elections, to require a pre-clearance from federal judges before making changes to the election or voter laws.

Imminent Concerns

Through 2011 and 2012 various states presented a wave of voter restriction laws shown to suppress the vote of disadvantaged communities. At least 41 states introduced 180 voter restrictive bills, including photo ID requirements, voter ID requirements, restrictions on early and absentee voting, restrictions on voter registration drives, and proof of citizenship requirements—all aspects that may deter minorities from voting. As of October 11, 2012, 15 laws and two (2) executive actions have passed in 19 states. Fourteen bills were blocked by resistance from citizen pushback, court cases, and the Department of Justice (DOJ). Reasoning behind the blocks, specifically for Texas photo ID requirements and Florida non-citizen purge lists, included the disproportionate cost and limitations to minority voters.

Following the SCOTUS decision on Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, six states previously covered under the “pre-clearance” provision of VRA may move forward with voter restriction bills. Such bills include voter ID requirements in Mississippi, Virginia, South Carolina, and recently passes Texas voter ID requirements along with redistricting laws. Various laws such as the Texas voter ID requirements are effective immediately. The results may suppress the vote of various disadvantaged groups in upcoming elections greatly impacting the civic voice of specific communities. As of Tuesday, the Justice Department had 276 requests of voting law changes pending for “pre-clearance” which now go without review, leaving states to pass discriminatory voter restriction laws.

Take Action Now!

As the Department of Justice had pending 276 requests of voting law changes, these changes can now be made at the discretion of the state, allowing individuals to fight for themselves against discriminatory policies that may inhibit the voting rights of many disadvantaged communities.

CAIR-Chicago is asking you to contact your U.S. Congressional Representatives and Senators to let them know that you urge Congress to actively begin to create a new formula for Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. The burden of proof should not be placed on already disadvantaged citizens to prove that they have been discriminated against.

Contact your U.S. Senator here:

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-IL)

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)

Contact your House Representative here:

Rep. Bobby L. Rush – District 1

Rep. Robin Kelly – District 2

Rep. Daniel Lipinski – District 3

Rep. Luis Gutierrez – District 4

Rep. Mike Quigley – District 5

Rep. Peter J. Roskam – District 6

Rep. Danny K. Davis – District 7

Rep. Tammy Duckworth – District 8

Rep. Jan Schakowsky – District 9

Rep. Brad Schneider – District 10

Rep. Bill Foster – District 11

Rep. William Enyart – District 12

Rep. Rodney David – District 13

Rep. Randy Hultgren – District 14

Rep. John Shimkus – District 15

Rep. Adam Kinzinger – District 16

Rep. Cheri Bustos – District 17

Rep. Aaron Schock – District 18