As pleased as we were with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Arizona v. ITCA last week, we are equally disappointed with the Court’s holding in Shelby County, AL v. Holder. By cutting the heart out of the Voting Rights Act, the Court has weakened our ability to keep our elections free, fair and accessible to every eligible voter while at the same time emboldening those who seek to create barriers to voting.
Already, states formerly subject to Section 5 preclearance are rushing to implement voter photo ID laws and discriminatory redistricting plans. The fight to protect the vote now involves not just the state legislatures, but Congress as well. Here at the LWVUS, we will be evaluating all our options, but it is important that League members take every opportunity to remind their members of Congress that voting rights are not a partisan issue and equal opportunity to participate in the greatest democracy in the world deserves the same bipartisan support that it has had since 1965.We have many tools available to us, as League leaders, to engage our members and our communities such as social media and email blasts, websites and newsletters. We need to create a national groundswell of support for protecting the right to vote.
The Shelby County decision places the Supreme Court on the wrong side of history and it is up to us, as voters, to make sure that the decision is only another bump in the long road to fair and equal access to the polls. In the end, our fight to protect voters is always going to depend on voters getting informed and informing their elected officials that voting is the most precious right the Constitution guarantees.
With renewed conviction, let’s get out there and power our voices to power the vote in 2013, 2014 and beyond.