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Urge Congress to Restore Voting Rights

 Background

On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Shelby v. Holder to invalidate 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 pre-clearance from the Department of Justice when making changes to election procedures. 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.

 
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.

 
Legislative Update

On January 16, Reps. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and John Conyers (D-MI) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014. The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 would, among other provisions:

 
  • Create a new preclearance formula that would replace the one that was struck down
  • Make it easier for courts to subject jurisdictions to preclearance
  • Require communities to notify the public when making changes to voting procedures
  • Allow courts to stop voting rights changes before an election, if they seem likely to be discriminatory
  • Allow the Justice Department to put election observers in place if there is likely to be racial discrimination at the polls
 
Take Action

Ask your Members of Congress to support the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (S. 1945/ H.R. 3899). You can send an e-mail by entering your Zip Code below. To call your Members of Congress, the Capital Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121. 

 For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Charlie Arnowitz at 202.387.2800.

 

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