CAPAC Members Commemorate 56th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

Aug 6, 2021 Issues: Civil Rights

Washington, D.C. — Today marks the 56th anniversary of the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In commemoration of this anniversary, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) issued the following statements:

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

“56 years ago, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 empowered the Federal government to fight the racist disenfranchising laws of the Jim Crow era, and moved us closer to our ideals as a country where all are free to exercise their right to vote. For years, this law was an unqualified success, rolling back laws meant to keep Americans from voting and increasing Black voter registration from about 23% before this law to 61% by 1969. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court’s consequential Shelby v. Holder decision in 2013 essentially gutted the protections established by the VRA. Since then, states and local governments have introduced numerous voter suppression laws that have intentionally made it harder for millions of Americans to vote. These restrictive laws introduced discriminatory and unnecessary rules such as voter ID requirements, purging voter rolls, and asking for proof of citizenship. All these tactics disproportionately affect underserved communities and people of color.

“The attack on voting rights intensified with the lies regarding the 2020 Presidential Election. As a result of all this misinformation, over 400 anti-voter bills have been introduced so far this year. As we commemorate the 56th anniversary of the VRA, we must redouble our efforts to fight these voter suppression laws, which disproportionately bar people of color from casting their ballot. This renewed effort must include urging Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Passing these bills will restore many of the protections that were cut from the VRA and ensure all Americans can utilize their right to vote.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC First Vice Chair:

“Today, we mark the 56th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which was enacted to ensure that all Americans could exercise their fundamental right to vote. But unfortunately, it has also been eight years since the Shelby County v. Holder decision that gutted key provisions of the law. Voting rights are under attack in our country, and eight years after that horrible ruling by the Supreme Court, more barriers are being erected to block access to the ballot box. It is imperative that we continue the fight against restrictive, anti-voter laws and do all we can to protect access to the ballot for each and every voter throughout our nation.”

Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Second Vice Chair:

“On the 56th anniversary of the historic Voting Rights Act, we recommit to protecting the fundamental right to vote for all Americans. To this day, the right to vote for minority and marginalized communities across the country is still being attacked and restricted. It is more urgent than ever for Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to ensure that access to the ballot box is protected. We must strengthen our basic democratic processes by eliminating voter suppression in every form, and I will work tirelessly with my colleagues to modernize and safeguard our elections and uphold all the values of democracy.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip:

“The Voting Rights Act was signed into law 56 years ago today and became the hallmark of a true democracy that reflects the diverse voices of the American people. Unfortunately, the values enshrined by the VRA have been stripped away by recent state laws that continue to promote voter suppression. In this year alone, 17 states passed 28 laws that restrict access to the ballot. We are on track to enter a period with the most significant voter suppression in our history since the VRA was passed. It is important now more than ever that we restore Americans’ freedom to vote.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13):

“The Voting Rights Act of 1965 cemented the right all Americans have to cast their vote. The disgraceful decision in Shelby v. Holder decimated that right and made it significantly more difficult for Americans to vote. As a result, communities of color, impoverished communities, and historically marginalized communities continue to face systemic disenfranchisement while trying to exercise their constitutional rights. In Congress, it is a priority to safeguard our democracy and fight to end voter suppression.”

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10):

“As we celebrate the 56th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and recommit to protect the sacred right to vote for all Americans, it is important we remember that voting rights across our nation are still under attack, especially for voters of color. Just this year, 49 states have introduced nearly 400 bills that threaten every Americans' access to the ballot box, preventing them from having an equal voice in our democracy. The House of Representatives has taken action by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act, and I urge the Senate to do the same. Together, we have an urgent responsibility to make it easier to vote, not harder.”

Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24):

“The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law 56 years ago, but we are still a long way from ensuring every American can exercise their right to vote. After Supreme Court cases weakening the efficacy of the VRA, and discriminatory state laws targeting access to the ballot box, it's clear Congress must step up and pass critical legislation to protect the right to vote and ensure all Americans have the opportunity to play an active role in our democracy.”

Congressman Steven Horsford (NV-04):

“On this 56th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, I’m honored to stand with my CAPAC colleagues to ensure that every eligible American citizen is able to cast a ballot in our elections, regardless of race, religion, language, or socioeconomic class. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, states have enacted a slew of anti-democratic laws intended to prevent people of color from voting. These laws are unacceptable and highlight the importance of passing H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act immediately. We must protect the right to vote, continue to fight for equal rights, and ensure that the United States continues to be a beacon for democracy across the world.”

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12):

Today marks the 56th anniversary of Voting Rights Act of 1965, legislation that made it possible for ALL Americans to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Despite all our progress on this basic tenet of democracy, the right to vote is still at risk. States and localities have continued to pass voter suppression laws that have made it harder for millions of people to vote, like the recent flurry of restrictive bills in Texas and the 33 other states with similar legislation pending. I urge my colleagues in the House to pass the For the People and John Lewis Voting Rights Acts to correct the blatant assault on voting rights. Congress must work guarantee access to the ballot box and ensure that every American has the ability to make their voice heard.”