Terri Sewell holds Speak Out, introduces legislation to restore Voting Rights Act

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Four years after the Supreme Court’s decision to roll back provisions of Voting Rights Act, Alabama 7th District U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell and a handful of her House colleagues congregated outside of the U.S. Capitol on Thursday for a Speak Out to introduce legislation to restore protections for voters in states with a recent history of discrimination.

According to Sewell, H.R. 2978: the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) addresses a wave of voter ID laws, racial gerrymandering, and other voter suppression tactics enacted at the state level.

“Today, I’m introducing the Voting Rights Advancement Act because I believe that the right to vote is one of the most fundamental rights in our democracy,” said Sewell. “As state after state create new barriers to the polls, our work to prevent discrimination and protect the rights of all voters has taken on a new urgency. The time to restore the vote is now.”

Sewell continued, “On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, I urge my colleagues to recommit ourselves to restoring the promise of voter equality. We cannot silence any voices in our electorate. Our nation will cease to be a democracy if we limit access to voting.”

The VRAA seeks to restore full protections to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. If passed, 13 states nationwide would be subject to federal election oversight due to a recent history of voter discrimination. It would also require states with a recent history of voter discrimination to seek approval from the Department of Justice before making any changes to their electoral laws.

“We know that we stand on the shoulders of amazing people. We know that we have the rights and freedoms that we enjoy because of other’s sacrifice. And we know that freedom is not free. So it’s important that we amplify our voices,” Sewell added at the Speak Out. “I’m asking millennials to use snapchat and all of the other social media that you have to amplify your voices to get your generation involved. So here’s the thing, your vote is your vote. And if you allow your vote to be suppressed, you’re allowing your voice to be suppressed.”

Reps. John Lewis, Judy Chu, Michelle Lujan Grisham, James Clyburn, Joseph Crowley, Sen. Patrick Leahy, NAACP Washington Bureau Director Hilary Shelton, The Leadership Conference President Vanita Gupta, ACLU Political Director Faiz Shakir, and AAJC Director of Census and Voting Programs Terry Ao Minnis were also in attendance.

Watch Sewell’s live-stream of the event below:

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12 Comments

  1. Does your website have a contact page? I’m having a tough time
    locating it but, I’d like tto shoot you an email. I’ve got some creative ifeas for your blog you might be interested inn hearing.
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  2. Pamela C Hatfield on

    sounds like Hitler is alive and well in America – so very very sad- lets beat the BASTARDS!

  3. Dodd Frank financial regulations are a minimal response to economic injustice and big banks disregard for average person and providing needed financial services.
    As people take advantage of rewards offered by banks & credit companies BEWARE, after all who is making most money as your returns remain minimal? Throughout history neither business not government has proven able to self regulate. Revisit a check and balance system, the stakes are higher than ever before….

    • On the radio last week I was asked what was my greatest success in life. I helped get the 1965 voting right bill passed. I worked for Dr. King Jr. in the SCLC/SCOPE project in 1965 which is credited by the library of congress as being the difference maker. We exposed the impossibility of African American to be registered to vote in the 13 southern states. Thus came the VOTINGS RIGHT ACT of 1965. In 2010 that act was neutered, and once again the racist gerrymanding and
      denial of voters to be registered all over again.
      If the IRS can send you a form, all that get that form should be registered to vote. We are in 2017 A.D. not 2017 B.C.
      In our SCLC group climate change and equality for all races, all religions,all nationalities , all sexual identities etc are embraced. We still have a long way to go.

  4. Living in Florida, I was a Democrat providing transportation to Latino voters (I am bilingual) in 2004. It wasn’t only immigration and costercare implied threats. If you wanted a Spanish language ballot, after several hours in line at your precinct polling place on election day itself, you were informed you would have to go elsewhere (usually a church), several miles distant in a neighborhood inaccessible y public transportation. Although the Democrats were unforgivably disorganized, Bush won by 3% in Central Florida. Jim Crow was and still is alive and smirking.
    Besides writing officials in a lue state, what can
    I do to help?

  5. virginia jackson on

    This is American and everyone legal has the right to Vote, that should be the right thing to do, If all of our senators and Rep., were supporting all people than they would not try to block the people votes.

  6. No new legislation is needed. The Supreme Court struck down only one provision in the Voting Rights Act — which was indeed unconstitutional, and which was never a permanent part of the Act anyway — and there are plenty of other voting-rights laws available to ensure that the right to vote is not violated.

    What’s more, the bill that has been drafted is bad legislation. For example, it contains much that has nothing to do with the Supreme Court’s decision; and it itself violates the Constitution by prohibiting practices that are not actually racially discriminatory but only have racially disproportionate effects.

    It’s even more extreme that an earlier bill that was introduced and has gone nowhere. The new bill would not, for example, exempt voter ID – which the Supreme Court has upheld — and it would cover more jurisdictions than the earlier bill: indeed, more jurisdictions than the original Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. So we are to believe that there are more racist jurisdictions in 2016 than there were in 1965 — comprising half the country’s population.

    It’s hard to believe that the bill’s sponsors expect the bill to be taken seriously. More likely it is a bone being tossed to the more extreme parts of their base, who thought the earlier bill — though bad in the extreme — was not bad enough.

  7. susan dobmeyer on

    Without our right to vote we are nothing special. No unnecessary restrictions should ever be imposed. There is no case for a need for additional voter i.d.

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