On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Norton Announces Resolution Calling on Congress to Enact an Updated Voting Rights Act to Face Down New Voting Restrictions
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced that when Congress returns from recess, she will introduce a resolution calling on Congress to update the Voting Rights Act by enacting new voting rights legislation, such as updated preclearance provisions, and condemning state voter suppression laws, which disproportionately deny voting rights to people of color, the elderly, and low-income residents. The Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, which allowed the federal government to review new voting laws in mostly Southern states before they went into effect. At least 22 states implemented new voting restrictions, such as restricting early voting, requiring proof of citizenship, reducing the number of polling stations, and decreasing assistance at polling places, after the Shelby County decision in time for the 2016 general election.
“Dr. King spent his life giving a voice and bringing voting rights to the most disenfranchised members in our society,” Norton said. “His efforts led to passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, allowing people of color to exercise their franchises in states with chronic histories of enacting restrictive voting laws. Although the Supreme Court in 2013 gutted the Voting Rights Act, the Court invited Congress to update the Act. In the absence of responsible action by Congress, states have felt emboldened to pass new voter suppression laws. Dr. King’s birthday is not only for commemoration of past victories. His birthday should inspire action to complete the nation’s work on civil rights.”