August 06, 2015

Hirono on 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act: Our Fight To Ensure All Americans Can Cast A Vote Is Not Done

Hirono Stands With President Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Congressman John Lewis In Calling For Restoration Of VRA

Today, on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), Senator Mazie K. Hirono called for the restoration of the landmark legislation that prohibits discrimination in voting:

“Fifty years ago, the Voting Rights Act gave millions of Americans a voice in our democracy. For the first time, federal protections guarded minority voters against unfair and inhumane literacy tests and discrimination. While our nation has come a long way in fighting disenfranchisement, we still have a long way to go in ensuring every American has the right to cast a vote.

“The landmark VRA came just months after civil rights activists endured injury and indignity during the Bloody Sunday march for voting rights from Selma, Alabama to the state capital of Montgomery. In March, I joined civil rights leaders in Selma in commemorating the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday where I was reminded of the perilous history of this fight. 

“Today, though it has been grievously weakened by the Supreme Court, the VRA continues to protect the right to vote in the United States. Thanks to VRA provisions, Hawaii voters who speak English as a second language have access to Japanese, Ilocano, and Mandarin Chinese ballots.

“However, there is much work to be done to live up to the promise that those on the Edmund Pettus Bridge fought for fifty years ago. The Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision gutted key provisions of the VRA. Today I stand with President Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and my friend Congressman John Lewis in calling for the full restoration of the Voting Rights Act.

“One of the founding principles of our nation is that all are created equal. But our fight to ensure all are protected is not done. Every election, voters report bias at the polling place. We must continue fighting to uphold and strengthen the VRA, and other pieces of critical civil rights legislation, to ensure that everyone is protected and no one is discriminated against, no matter who they are, who they love, where they live, or what they look like.”

Senator Hirono is a cosponsor of Senator Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would repeal the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision, and Senator Jon Tester’s (D-MT) Native Voting Rights Act, which would require preclearance before moving or eliminating polling places and voter registration sites in or near Indian reservations.