The next President & Congress must enact democracy reform

In 2021, the next president will have many important issues to address: from combating climate change and gun violence, to overcoming the coronavirus pandemic and dismantling systemic racism in America. But in order for the next administration to do that effectively, we need to build a stronger and more representative democracy.

That’s why the next president must urge Congress to pass the For the People Act (HR 1) as a first priority in their administration.

About HR 1, League CEO Virginia Case issued a statement in 2019 in support of the legislation: 

“This bill stands to improve American elections by making our election system more free, fair, and accessible to all eligible Americans.  

“The League of Women Voters is proud to see HR1 includes restoring the Voting Rights Act, improvements to Automatic Voter Registration, public financing of elections through small donor matching funds, overturning Citizens United, ending partisan gerrymandering and more. 

“The League worked behind the scenes to influence the language of this legislation, including a push to include Same Day Registration,” she said.

With regard to the Voting Rights Act, it’s been over seven years since the U.S. Supreme Court, in their decision of Shelby County v. Holder, gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The decision by the court invalidated parts of the VRA that were designed to protect voters from racial discrimination at the polls. The court did away with the process known as “preclearance” which required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination across the country to obtain approval from the U.S. Department of Justice when implementing new laws related to voting and elections.

Since 2013, more than 16 states passed bills that made it more difficult for African Americans and other communities of color to access the ballot box. These obstacles including restrictive voter identification laws and cuts to polling places led to an increase in voting rights challenges. Nonprofits like the League have persuasively argued for why upholding the protections within the VRA is key to ensuring access to the voting booth.

Passage of the VRA was one of the most important legislative actions of the 20th Century. It was a direct response to the discriminatory tactics, like literacy tests, intimidation, threats, and violence used to prevent people of color from registering and voting. The preclearance section of the VRA was the necessary enforcement for the 15th Amendment’s guarantee that no citizen would be denied the right to vote because of the color of their skin.

Please click here to show your support for the urgent reforms needed to make our democracy work for all of us.

–From the National League of Women Voters

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