Washington, D.C. — Today, on the 55th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act into law, Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:
The 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act comes at a moment when the right of millions to cast their ballot is in peril.
The Voting Rights Act enfranchised millions of Americans, primarily Black Americans, who throughout our nation’s history have been systematically denied access to the ballot. For decades this landmark law enjoyed strong bipartisan support. But in recent years, conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court, in Congress, in state governments, and in the White House have worked to dismantle the Voting Rights Act and deny their fellow citizens their constitutional right to vote.
This is nothing less than a blatant, and often racist, conservative power grab by some of our country’s most powerful citizens directed at those who have historically been denied power. It is appalling that in 2020 millions of people of color, voters with disabilities, people over the age of 65, young adults, low-income families, and many others are facing a new wave of voter suppression.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), stood in the U.S. Capitol to memorialize Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), calling him a “hero.” Lewis devoted his life to—and almost lost his life—fighting for voting rights. It is an act of supreme hypocrisy that Leader McConnell is blocking full funding for elections and will not follow the House of Representatives’ lead and bring the bipartisan John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to the Senate floor for a vote. McConnell’s negligence increases the likelihood that Black Americans will be forced to risk their lives to vote during a pandemic that is killing them at a disproportionate rate. This is clear voter suppression. Without Senate support for voting rights, nothing less than the integrity of our democracy is at stake.