The New Movement for Voting Rights
With the launch of the new Congressional Voting Rights Caucus and the Voting Rights Alliance (VRA) in 2016, momentum is building for greater voter protection.
WHO IS THE VRA?
On April 21, 2016, nine members of Congress, two hundred activists and Congressional staff gathered for a historic Congressional briefing on the most pressing issues of 2016; voter suppression and manipulation of US elections.
From that briefing, the new Congressional Voting Rights Caucus was formed, and the Voting Rights Alliance soon followed.
The Voting Rights Alliance is a growing network of organizations, activists, and legislators working to restore and protect voting rights from concerted attacks that undermine our access to the polls, and to have our votes fairly counted.
On June 23rd—the third anniversary of the Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act—we took a range of actions to educate, organize, and complement the growing movement against voter suppression and for inclusive and accessible elections.
Voting Rights Alliance members from across the country came to DC for a rally and press conference.
At the same time thousands of callers flooded the Congressional Switchboard, demanding the House Speaker and Judiciary Committee Chairs hold hearings on the Voting Rights Act.
That day, the Alliance also held a Twitter town hall and a Twitter storm using the hashtag #ProtestShelby2016.
The social media conversation included thousands of participants helping to launch a national campaign to push for the Voting Rights Advancement Act’s remedial legislation needed to restore voting rights, and to build a resistance movement to voter suppression.
WHY WE'RE FIGHTING BACK
Recent studies reveal that voter suppression laws and manipulations in over 30 states could stop up to 3 million people from accessing the ballot in competitive states in the general election. This affects mostly communities of color, students, seniors, women, people with disabilities, and low income citizens. In seventeen states these tactics will first take effect in the 2016 elections.
Additionally, authorities nationwide are tabulating election results on insecure, decades-old voting machines. These malfunctioning machines are often placed in minority districts, creating long waiting lines and forcing use of provisional ballots. In key states – including Florida, Ohio and North Carolina - paperless voting machines pose extreme accountability risks.
Read: How Old, Faulty Voting Machines Undermine American Democracy by Representative Hank Johnson
While the threats to democracy this year are more serious than ever, people of conscience—in Congress and in communities around the country—are mobilizing for unprecedented action inside and outside of government.
The stakes in 2016 are higher than ever. With the issues of mass incarceration, poverty, immigration reform, social, gender, economic and environmental justice in balance, the consequences of electoral malfeasance are incalculable.
We cannot allow voter suppression to be the new norm. We must build a resistance movement to fight back against this new Jim Crow, and we must restore the Voting Rights Act.
“I want you to know that I like the diversity of the color of the make up of this room. We have white brothers and sisters, we have African Americans, we have Hispanics now concerned about this. . . Are we motived to go out and do even more than we were going to do before?”
— Representative John Conyers, Congressional Briefing on Voter Suppression and Election Defense