Re-establishing Voting Rights

Nothing is more precious than the right to vote, unless it’s the ability to exercise that right.

Some of my earliest, and fondest, memories are of my two bubbas discussing the politics of the 1950s in exceedingly heavily accented English.  One can only imagine what they would have thought of the gutting by our Supreme Court of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

While they didn’t live to see that legislation, my bubs cherished, and religiously applied, what it upheld – the right of every adult American citizen to vote.  Both Grandma Boytim and Grandma Petrovsky voted in every Presidential election from the time they became naturalized citizens in the 1930s, until they passed away.  The only other folks I’ve known who voted as faithfully were former students, one originally from Bangladesh and the other from Turkey - naturalized citizens both.  Syeda, my Bangladeshi, told me she cried when she voted for the first time.

Fast-forward to today, or more precisely, to June 24th, 2015.  That’s the second anniversary of the Shelby County v. Holder U.S. Supreme Court decision that, as mentioned, did away with important sections of the Voting Rights Act.  Specifically, that decision said that Section 4 of the VRA is unconstitutional.  Trouble is, Section 4 set up a formula to identify those areas of the United States where racial discrimination in voting had been unusually prevalent, and provided for remedies where appropriate.

But now, members of both the U.S. House and Senate have gotten together to sponsor a new bill that seeks to restore the voter protections intrinsic to the Voting Rights Act.  This new bill, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, was introduced on June 24th just past by Senators Leahy, Durbin and Coons and Representatives Lewis, Sewell, Sanchez, and Chu.

The League of Women Voters, historically staunch advocates of voting rights, backs this new legislation wholeheartedly.  So should we all.  Contact your Members of Congress.

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Michele Petrovsky holds a Master's Degree in Computer Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh. She spent over two decades teaching in colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and currently publishes two blogs: Thoughts4Change and I Owe It All to J Thaddeus Toad. Petrovsky resides in Glen Mills, PA.


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