Restoring the Voting Rights Act

This week, the Voting Rights Advancement Act was introduced in Congress in hopes of restoring Section 5 to modern standards.


From 1965 to 2013, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) protected voters and strengthened our political process.

But in 2013, part of the VRA was crippled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, which targeted Section 5, the heart of the VRA.

Section 5 serves as our democracy’s discrimination checkpoint by requiring jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting to submit proposed voting changes for federal approval before they are enacted to ensure that they are free from discrimination.

In order to determine which jurisdictions were required to get federal approval, the VRA relied on a formula in Section 4(b). It was this formula that the Supreme Court struck down in Shelby County, leaving Section 5 ineffective.

Since this decision, state and local lawmakers have spent millions on discriminatory voter ID laws that disproportionately affect people of color, effectively taking away these people’s most basic right: the right to vote.

This week, District U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell introduced new legislation to revive Section 5. it is important to restore the VRA to prevent any regression in future voting.

The Fair Representation Act was also recently introduced, which gives voters of all backgrounds and all political stripes the power to elect House Members who reflect their views and will work constructively with others in Congress. FRA goes hand-in-hand with the VRA, to help create a fair representation voting rule.

Ignoring overwhelming evidence of modern-day discrimination in not acceptable. Hopefully, these new legislations will move us forward in the right direction.


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