Bush “Woefully Mistaken” on Voting Rights

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  • Scott Swenson, Dale Eisman
Common Cause Chief Says Voting Rights Advancement Act Vital to Ensuring Every Voice Can be Heard

The President Americans will elect next year must be committed to guaranteeing every American’s right to participate in our democracy by modernizing the federal Voting Rights Act, Common Cause President Miles Rapoport said today.

“If Jeb Bush believes barriers to voting have been mostly dismantled – as his remarks today in Des Moines suggest — he is woefully mistaken.”

Rapoport noted that within days of the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision gutting key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, six states moved to pass or implement laws erecting new barriers to voting. Additional states have taken similar actions since then.

“This assault on the franchise is unlike anything we’ve seen since the 1950s and 60s,” Rapoport said. “It underscores the importance of passing the bipartisan Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) in this Congress and taking other steps to ensure that everyone has a voice in our politics and our elections.”

In a forum in Des Moines, IA this morning, Bush said he could not support extending the Voting Rights Act “as is” and asserted that federal action to protect voting is no longer needed in most of the country. In fact, there’s no proposal to leave the law “as is,” Rapoport noted; the VRAA has been introduced to modernize and strengthen it.

While the VRAA has attracted bipartisan support, including a recent endorsement by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, it remains bottled up in the House Judiciary Committee, where Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, has declined to schedule a hearing.

The VRAA is among the keystones of a “Fighting Big Money, Empowering People” agenda adopted this summer by Common Cause and a coalition of other citizen advocacy organizations. “For a real democracy, we must have easy access to the ballot for every citizen and a campaign finance system that citizen voices are heard rather than drowned out by big money,” Rapoport said.