The Voting Rights Act passed on August 6, 1965. For African American women, this was meant to deliver on the promise of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was intended to guarantee women the right to vote. The Amendment’s promise of suffrage for women, unfortunately, did not protect indigenous women and women of color. It took the Voting Rights Act to finally outlaw various discriminatory voting practices which acted as a barrier for women of color and was specifically aimed at laws adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting.
Today we must continue to protect women, particularly women of color, from the onslaught of voter suppression laws and institutional barriers that can tilt the balance of elections. Our democracy is being hijacked by voter restriction techniques that disproportionately impact young people, the elderly, low-income individuals and especially people of color—and within each of these communities, women are most harshly affected.
NOW is outraged that women, who fought so hard for suffrage and particularly women of color, who were the last to secure that right, could now be the first to lose it. These laws could deeply impact women at a time when we need to stop the right-wing from continuing to wage its war on women. Simply put, we need more women at the polls in 2018 to elect leaders who will stand up for our rights.