CHICAGO –(ENEWSPF)–August 5, 2016. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky released the following statement for the upcoming 51st anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on August 6, 1965:
“Fifty one years ago, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law—ushering in a new age in American democracy. For decades leading up to its passage, too many Americans were blocked from voting because of discriminatory barriers like poll taxes and literacy tests, or were threatened if they sought their right to vote. Although they faced violence, prison time, and the threat of death, activists continued their fight and eventually persevered. Their efforts are etched into the most important civil rights legislation in American history, a law that ensures that all Americans—no matter where they live, or their skin color, gender, or ethnicity—have a voice in our democracy.
“Unfortunately, the rights enshrined in the 1965 bill are still under attack a half century later. Three years ago, the Supreme Court issued its misguided Shelby County v. Holder decision, invalidating a crucial portion of the Voting Rights Act which prevented discrimination before it occurred. Since then, Republican-led state legislatures have passed far too many laws that make it more difficult for Americans to vote—unfortunate reminders that the job of securing the right to vote is not done yet. In response, we must stand up for the right of all Americans to have their voices heard at the ballot box.
“I call upon Republicans in Congress to take action to strengthen voting rights. A democracy that sets up voting barriers to target specific groups is not a democracy at all. If Republicans truly support the voting rights of all Americans, then they must allow the bipartisan Voting Rights Advancement Act to come to the floor for a vote. Our democracy hangs in the balance.”