Urge Congress to restore voting rights

On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder invalidated parts of the Voting Rights Act. In the aftermath of the Court’s misguided decision, many states have tested the extent to which they can legally limit citizens’ access to the ballot box by introducing--and in many cases passing--restrictive voting laws

The bipartisan John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4/S.4263 in the 116th Congress) would improve the voting process in the United States by modernizing the preclearance formula to cover states with a pattern of discrimination that puts voters at risk, protecting voters from the types of voting changes most likely to discriminate against People of Color and language minorities and requiring that jurisdictions make voting changes public and transparent, among other provisions.

Urge your members of Congress to support the bipartisan John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would help restore protections against these restrictive voting laws.

Background:

On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder invalidated parts of the Voting Rights Act. The Court struck down Section 4(b), which contained a formula requiring certain areas with a history of disenfranchisement problems to seek preclearance from the Department of Justice when making changes to election procedures. Dissenting to the court's ruling, Ruth Bader Ginsberg noted, "throwing out preclearence when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."

In the aftermath of the Court’s misguided decision, many states previously covered by the invalidated “preclearance" formula have tested the extent to which they can legally limit citizens’ access to the ballot box, by introducing, and in some cases passing, restrictive voting laws. These laws often have discriminatory effects on racial minorities, the poor, the elderly and students. 

The bill was renamed the John Lewis VRAA after the death of voting and civil rights champion John Lewis. In his final message to Americans, Lewis charges "ordinary people" with continuing the work for justice observing that "Voting and participating in the democratic process are key." 

Jewish Values:

Jewish tradition teaches us that the selection of leaders is not a privilege but a collective responsibility. Rabbi Yitzchak taught that “a ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted” (Babylonian Talmud, B’rachot 55a). In keeping with the insight of this teaching, it is the duty of all who cherish democracy to ensure that all eligible citizens are afforded the opportunity to vote and have their votes counted. The Reform Jewish Movement, long believing that the right to vote is fundamental to American democracy, strongly supports legislation that protects the rights of all citizens to exercise the right to vote.

For More Information:

You can email your Members of Congress through our form below, or you can call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak directly with their offices. 

For more information on this issue, visit the RAC's Civil Rights and Voting Rights page or contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Josh Burg.

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