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Congressman Engel Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

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Congressman Engel Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

July 31, 2015 - 14:15
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Congressman Engel Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

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WASHINGTON, DC --Congressman Eliot Engel, a senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, stood with colleagues today on the steps of the Capitol to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and call on Republicans in Congress to support voting rights nationwide.

“The right to vote is the very foundation on which our democratic society is built,” Congressman Engel said. “Fifty years after President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, it is clear that the struggle for the right to vote is not over.  In the face of the Supreme Court’s dismantling of key provisions within the Voting Rights Act, we must renew our commitment to protecting this fundamental right for all Americans.  I call on House Republicans to allow an immediate vote on federal legislation to fully restore the Voting Rights Act, update and modernize our voter registration systems, and require all states to allow some form of early voting.”

It has been more than two years since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which has been called “a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act.”  In that decision, Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged the ongoing persistence of voter discrimination and invited Congress to come up with a new coverage formula based on current conditions. 

“The Voting Rights Act is the most successful piece of civil rights legislation in history,” Engel said. “Its weakening, combined with a coordinated attack on voting rights around the country at the state level, has created a direct threat to the strength of our democracy.  Congress must address this threat through legislation that fully restores the Voting Rights Act, so we can ensure everyone who is eligible to vote has access to the ballot box.”

“Voting Rights Now!” is part of the House Democrats’ “Building on our Legacy, Embracing the Future” initiative, which highlights some of the major legislative achievements of 1965 and the ongoing fight to protect them from dangerous Republican attacks.  Fifty years after the enactment of groundbreaking legislation on these priorities, House Democrats continue to stand for guaranteeing voting rights for all Americans, making college more affordable, defending Medicare and Medicaid, and protecting our country’s environment.