CAPAC Members Commemorate 52nd Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

Aug 4, 2017 Issues: Civil Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sunday marks the 52nd anniversary of the enactment of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965. In commemoration of this anniversary, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements:

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“52 years ago, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 implemented critical protections to ensure that our right to vote would not be infringed, and that all American citizens – regardless of their race, ethnicity, or language ability – would have equal access to the ballot box. Unfortunately, we have seen many of these key protections eroded since the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County decision, which gutted key provisions of the VRA and triggered a wave of voter suppression laws that have disenfranchised millions of voters across our nation. Without the full protections of the VRA, communities of color, students, the elderly, and the disabled – including millions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – will continue to face increased barriers at the polls. This includes increasingly stringent voter ID laws, a rollback of early and absentee voting, as well as onerous proof of citizenship requirements that disproportionately impact minority communities.

“Our democracy is strengthened when all Americans can exercise their fundamental right to vote. CAPAC remains committed to restoring this scared right through the Voting Rights Advancement Act, and will continue the fight to ensure that all eligible voters have the ability to make their voices heard.”

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI):

“Fifty-two years ago, the Voting Rights Act made the right to vote a reality for millions of Americans. However, the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County gutted this seminal law and threatened the progress of generations of Civil Right heroes—it also gave numerous states a free pass to enact onerous voter ID laws and other barriers that particularly impact communities of color. We must act to restore the Voting Rights Act and protect the fundamental right of all Americans to vote and have their vote counted.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13): 

“52 years ago, our nation affirmed that all Americans have an equal right to the ballot box by passing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Unfortunately, the right to vote is once again under assault - on multiple fonts. After Shelby v. Holder, multiple states passed hundreds of restrictions to make it harder to vote. Additionally, the President’s newly formed voter fraud commission will only seek to create more barriers between Americans and the ballot box. Rest assured, I will work with my CAPAC and Tri-Caucus colleagues to protect communities of color against disenfranchisement.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06):

“The importance of the Voting Rights Act cannot be overstated. It has knocked down barriers that blocked Americans from voting and ensured equal access to the ballot box. The Supreme Court’s Shelby v. Holder decision gutted this landmark civil rights law, and rolled back decades of progress. As we mark the 52nd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we must redouble our efforts to reinstate the vital protections that the law provided to Americans. Congress must act to ensure that all Americans are afforded their right to vote.”

Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (FL-07):

“The right to vote is a fundamental American principle, but obtaining universal access to the ballot box for all Americans has been a hard-fought struggle throughout our history. For more than fifty years, the Voting Rights Act has helped safeguard this right, but we cannot be passive in defending the progress we have made. New laws have been proposed at the state and federal levels that seek to limit the ability of Americans to vote. On this day, the 52nd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and every other day, Congress must fight to defend equality in the voting booth for all.”

Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11): 

“The right to vote is one of the most fundamental rights in our democracy, but it remains under attack. Since the 2013 Shelby v. Holder decision, there has been a concerted effort to stifle the voice of voters. States across the country have passed harmful voter suppression laws that have disproportionately affected seniors, young people, and people of color. Voter participation results from the 2016 elections show some of these tactics were successful. 

“As we commemorate the 52nd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we are reminded of the injustice that still exists in our electoral process. Everyone should have unfettered access to the ballot box. We must continue to do everything in our power to ensure every American has the right to vote.”

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40):

"52 years ago, the enactment of the Voting Rights Act marked a critical milestone in protecting citizens' right to vote. Sadly, four years ago, the Supreme Court gutted vital provisions of this act, freeing states and localities with histories of voter discrimination to impose deeply destructive voting restrictions. Our nation's greatness is rooted in our democratic tradition: the idea that our citizens' voices must guide our leaders' decisions. A democracy should make it easier, not harder, for all eligible individuals to vote. That is why it is imperative that Congress act quickly to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act, so that we can fight the scourge of voter suppression and work to ensure all voters can make their voices heard." 

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09):

“On the 52nd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965, we celebrate one of our country’s most important civil rights laws. As we remember this landmark legislation, we must also denounce the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder ruling. This decision gutted portions of the Voting Rights Act, allowing states with a history of voter discrimination the autonomy to re-implement discriminatory voting restrictions. In response to the Shelby v. Holder case, I have cosponsored the Voting Rights Advancement Act. This legislation will institute protections to combat voter discrimination across the country, responds to the rise in modern-day voter disenfranchisement, and helps restore the critical protections of the VRA. Suppressing voting rights is an outrageous attack on the foundation of democracy. As a member of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, I am committed to safeguarding the fundamental right to vote. Congress has a responsibility to protect this constitutional right, and we must do more to ensure all Americans have their voices heard at the ballot box.”

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.