Regardless of who you support in the 2016 election, this year’s election is important for a different reason – since 2014, 17 states have new voting laws on the books that will make it more difficult for people to vote. Since the 2013 Supreme Court case Shelby v. Holder, accountability systems to protect voters from discrimination have been rapidly dismantled. Women and communities of color are disproportionately targeted in these efforts by restricting early voting days, introducing new identification requirements, and reducing the number of polling places. Only 66% of women have photo identification that reflects their current legal name, leaving 34% of women scrambling to find additional paperwork to even register for their right to vote. Decreasing early voting discriminates against low-income, disproportionately non-white communities who use early voting the most.
It’s time for Congress to pass legislation that will restore accountability and fairness to our voting system. The Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 2867/S. 1659) will defend fundamental voting rights by restoring transparency, protect the rights of vulnerable communities and regulate voting law changes in areas with multiple reports of voting rights violations.