ADC Applauds Introduction of Voting Rights Advancement Act!


American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

ADC Applauds Introduction of Voting Rights Advancement Act

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Washington, DC | | June  24, 2015 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) applauds Senators Leahy, Durbin and Coons and Representatives Lewis, Sewell, Sanchez, and Chu for taking action to restore voting rights by introducing the Voting Rights Advancement Act today in both the Senate and the House. ADC urges Congress to pass this important bill to restore voting rights and strengthen our democracy. 

Take Action: Click here to tell Congress to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act and restore voting rights today!

The introduction of the Voting Rights Advancement Act (“Advancement Act”) coincides with the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, a decision which invalidated the key enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965. Moments after that decision was announced two years ago, morally corrupt agents in localities across the nation began formulating plans to disenfranchise minority groups by passing discriminatory voting changes.  After decades of repression and discrimination, minority groups need more, not less, of a chance to have their voices be heard. 

The civil rights community has tried to respond to these assaults on our democracy. Here at ADC, we took up a voter suppression case in which a City Clerk in Dearborn Heights, Michigan refused to process absentee ballots in order to limit the political voice of the Arab-American population of the town.

ADC demanded that the City of Dearborn Heights process all absentee ballots immediately. However, instead of redress, our complaints were met with false accusations of voter fraud. This is a fear-mongering tactic that has been frequently used to justify repressive voter policies and limit minority voter turnout. This is why we need better Federal oversight of elections and voting procedures. This is why we need the Voting Rights Advancement Act. 

The Advancement Act contains provisions that address the spectrum of ways that states and local governments try to cheat minorities out of their fundamental right to right to vote. Additionally, the VRAA expands the Federal Observer Program and permits the U.S. Attorney General to send federal observers to any place she determines there is a substantial risk of racial discrimination at the polls.

The Advancement Act even addresses the critics of past legislation. It correctly acknowledges that voting rights violations can occur in any state at any time. It establishes a framework in which states are properly censured for voting rights violations and rewarded for upholding constitutional guarantees of free and fair elections. 

The Voting Rights Advancement Act would:

  1. Modernize the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance formula to cover states with a pattern of discrimination.
  2. Ensure that last-minute voting changes won’t adversely affect voters.
  3. Protect voters from the types of voting changes most likely to discriminate against people of color and language minorities, including Arab-Americans. 
  4. Enhance the DOJ’s ability to Apply Preclearance Review when Needed
  5. Expand the Federal Observer Program
  6. Improve Voting Rights Protections for Native Americans and Alaska Natives

In the two years since the Shelby decision, Congress has failed to restore the Voting Rights Act, and voters have been subject to more discrimination that at any time in the past 50 years. The Voting Rights Advancement Act is not only the kind of legislation we need, but the kind of legislation that we as Americans deserve. Our legislators cannot pursue equitable legislation and polices when the processes by which they are elected are full of bias and discrimination. ADC stands with a strong coalition of civil rights organizations in supporting the Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Take Action: Tell Congress to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act and restore the protections of the VRA!

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