It's Shelby Week! Congress Must Pass H.R. 4 to Strengthen the Voting Rights Act - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

It’s Shelby Week! Congress Must Pass H.R. 4 to Strengthen the Voting Rights Act

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on voting rights marking the sixth anniversary of the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision.

By Mirielle Wright

On Tuesday, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on voting rights marking the sixth anniversary of the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision. The decision substantially weakened the Voting Rights Act and allowed states to enact discriminatory laws disproportionately harming Black and Brown voters. Measures like strict voter ID requirements, cuts to early voting days, and purging of the voter rolls, were tactics implemented to make it harder for voters of color to cast a ballot.

Key witnesses included Stacey Abrams, former Georgia Democratic candidate for governor and founder of Fair Fight Action; Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; and Kyle Hawkins, Solicitor General of Texas in the Office of the Texas Attorney General. During the hearing several key points became clear.

  • Voters still face challenges in casting a ballot. “In 2016 alone, 14 states imposed new restrictive voting laws for the first time in advance of a presidential election. By 2018, six states had new restrictive laws in place. Federal courts have determined intentional discrimination in at least 10 voting rights decisions since Shelby in 2013. It is clear that Shelby County v. Holder case has made it easier for states and localities to revert back to discriminatory practices that restrict the voting rights of Black, Brown, Native, and Asian American people.” (Shelby Week 2019, Page 2)
  • Congress must pass H.R. 4 to strengthen the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act previously required states with a history of discrimination to submit election changes to the federal government for approval. In the aftermath of the Shelby decision, which eliminated this requirement, non-profit organizations must now remedy voter suppression after it happens and wage expensive litigation that can take years to correct state voting laws. H.R. 4 would require states to provide notice of their desired changes to the federal government and show the impact of these changes on various voting groups.
  • Higher turnout among Black voters in Georgia’s 2018 election is NOT an indication that voter suppression is non-existent. Increased turnout among Black voters in Georgia was due to the engagement work of groups like the New Georgia Project, a long-time partner of Advancement Projects National Office. Ahead of the 2018 election, 1.4 million voters were purged from the voting rolls.

Watch the full hearing here. During Shelby Week 2019 (June 24-30), voters across the country can support voting rights by demanding Congress pass H.R. 4 and restore the Voting Rights Act. Contact members of Congress at 202-224-3121 and let them know how the Shelby decision “unleashed a torrent of voter discrimination and electoral chaos nationwide (Shelby Week, Page 10). Learn how Advancement Project National Office has worked to protect voting rights and our work with #WeVoteWeCount initiative. We must #RestoreTheVote now!

Mirielle Wright is an undergraduate student at Harvard University studying African-American Studies and Government. She is currently working as a Communications Intern at Advancement Project.

KEEP READING

National Civil Rights Org: Florida’s New Jim Crow Law Will Not Stand

Senate Bill 90 is a full-frontal assault on the political power of Black and Brown Floridians. Florida politicians are advancing baseless claims of fraud and abuse as an excuse to eliminate voting tools and procedures that enabled Floridians to vote safety and securely during a public health crisis.

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Condemns Passage of Florida Voter Suppression Bill

Yesterday, Florida’s state legislature passed Senate Bill 90, a monster voter suppression bill aimed at reducing access to the ballot box for Black and Brown voters.

Read More
Democracy on the Ropes

On April 7, 2021, Advancement Project National Office hosted Democracy on the Ropes, a special conversation with voting rights and racial justice leaders, on the intersections of voter suppression and the criminalization of protest. Held during the National #ForThePeople Week of Action, panelists explored how states have attempted to silence communities of color at the ballot box and in the streets. At least 43 states have advanced legislation making it harder to vote. In the last six months, states have also introduced 85 bills criminalizing freedom of assembly and restricting First Amendment. Speakers highlighted the organizing strategies, litigation and tools…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Condemns Passage of Georgia Voter Suppression Legislation

CONTACT Jeralyn Cave [email protected] 202-921-7321 On Thursday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a massive voter suppression bill limiting the use of drop boxes, requiring ID to vote-by-mail, and allowing the state legislature to takeover local election boards. The bill comes on the heels of record turnout during the 2020 presidential election in which Black and Brown communities braved 8-hour wait times to vote during a global health pandemic. Advancement Project National Office, a 21st century racial justice organization released the following statement. “We vehemently condemn the move by Georgia legislators to silence the voices…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Applauds Introduction, Urges Passage of S. 1 to Protect Voting Rights of Communities of Color

MEDIA CONTACT Jeralyn Cave [email protected] 202-921-7321 WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate introduced S. 1 – the For the People Act of 2021—a pro-democracy piece of legislation that aims to protect and strengthen access to voting, blunts the influence of dark money in politics and establishes anti-corruption measures for government. Advancement Project National Office, a 21st century civil rights and racial justice organization released the following statement. “Right now, at least 43 states have advanced legislation making it harder to vote on the heels of a historic election that saw record voter turnout,”…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Celebrates Expansion of Voting Rights to Virginians on Probation and Parole

Gov. Northam announced that Virginia will restore the voting rights of those on probation and parole automatically upon the completion of their sentence of incarceration.

Read More
Voting Rights Advocates Release New Report on Felony Disenfranchisement & Poor Reentry Supports in Mississippi

The report uplifts data & the lived experiences of returning citizens impacted by the state’s inadequate reentry resources, and inefficient process for regaining the right to vote.

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Celebrates Passage of For the People Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives historically passed H.R. 1 – the For the People Act – a pro-democracy piece of legislation that protects and strengthens access to voting, blunts the influence of dark money in politics and establishes anti-corruption measures for government. Advancement Project National Office, a 21st century civil rights and racial justice organization released the following statement. “By passing H.R. 1, the House of Representatives voted to create a more inclusive democracy—one in which Black and Brown voters have equal access to the ballot box and have an equal…

Read More
How H.R. 1’s Passage Advances a Just & Inclusive Democracy

By Jorge L. Vasquez, Power & Democracy Program Director Today, the U.S. House of Representatives is poised to pass H.R. 1 – The For the People Act – a pro-democracy piece of legislation that implements a host of measures that makes voting more accessible, limits dark money in politics and combats gerrymandering. In short, it’s a win for Black and Brown communities. It combats voter suppression schemes used to keep these voters from successfully casting a ballot and advances measures that ensure they have fair representation in the government(s) that make key decisions for their communities. In a nutshell, H.R.

Read More