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Letter: Congress must act quickly

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 5:31 a.m. CST

To the Editor:

As the summer heat began to build in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Supreme Court issued a much anticipated decision that gutted key components of the monumental Voting Rights Act of 1965. The decision in the case of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder erased fundamental protections against racial discrimination in voting that have been effective for more than 40 years and opened the floodgates for a wave of attacks on voters. Only strong action from Congress can fix the court’s mistake.

Before the ink was even dry on the decision, several states rushed to implement racially discriminatory anti-voter laws, including several states where the League of Women Voters had previously succeeded in blocking voter restrictions in the courts and state legislatures. Sadly, this is only the beginning. Without a strong VRA, our ability to fight off anti-voter legislation and keep our elections free, fair and accessible is significantly weakened.

As we hit the 48th  anniversary of this historic civil rights legislation, the VRA remains an essential protection against the thinly veiled discrimination that still threatens Americans’ right to vote. Congress needs to move swiftly to overcome this decision and restore the effectiveness of the VRA. The Shelby decision is a call to action for all who believe all Americans should have fair and equal access to the ballot. Now is the time to contact your member of Congress and tell him or her to repair the VRA before any more damage is done.

Jean Pierce

First vice president of the League of Women Voters of Central Kane County

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