The struggle to secure voting rights and the struggle to secure the rights of women have been intertwined in U.S. history since the historic meeting at Seneca Falls in 1848 endorsed the demand for women to have the right to vote.
Today, nearly a century after women won the constitutional right to vote, and a half-century after African American women and men won access to the ballot box through the 1965 Voting Rights Act, we are facing a new onslaught of state voter suppression measures.
Aimed primarily at communities of color, immigrants, and younger voters, these laws are the shameful progeny of the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder.
The fact is, voter suppression laws disproportionately impact women. That’s why the National Organization for Women (NOW) is proud to be a member of the Voting Rights Alliance to undo the damage done by Shelby, end voter suppression laws, and pressure Congress to protect and restore the right to vote for every citizen.
NOW activists are joining members and supporters of the new Congressional Voting Rights Caucus on Capitol Hill today to protest the Shelby decision and demand immediate action by Congress to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Restrictions on early voting disproportionately block women from exercising their right to vote. Women are over-represented in the ranks of low-wage work, and many can’t take time off to go vote on Tuesday. They need flexible voting hours via early voting.
What’s more, voter ID laws have a disproportionately negative effect on women. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, one third of all women have citizenship documents that do not identically match their current names, primarily because of name changes at marriage.
Beyond discrimination at the voting booth, when women are blocked from voting, anti-woman legislators get elected, and then they enact laws that harm women — like the tsunami of anti-reproductive rights laws passed by states in the past three years — or block beneficial policies like paid leave, equal pay, or an increase in the minimum wage.
NOW is proud that for the first time in our history, a woman will be nominated to run for President on a major party ticket. That’s a tremendous step forward. But undermining voting rights for our sisters and brothers of color will set back our democracy for generations to come. Shelby must not be allowed to stand. It is time to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act without further delay.
Tamara Stein , email@example.com