On the 48th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, Congress Must Act Quickly to Protect Democracy

EDITORIAL NOTE: This blog post was originally published on the Huffington Post. 

Next week marks the 48th anniversary of the passage of one of the nation's most historically effective civil rights statutes, the monumental Voting Rights Act of 1965(VRA). Prompted by the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act ensures that every American citizen, regardless of race or language, has equal access to the vote. When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the legislation into law on August 6, 1965, he called the day ''a triumph for freedom." ''This law covers many pages,'' he said, ''but the heart of the act is plain: Wherever, by clear and objective standards, states and counties are using regulations... to deny the right to vote, then they will be struck down."

And for nearly half a century, the Voting Rights Act has done just that, striking down attempts at voter suppression and helping to ensure that our voting system is fair, free and accessible. Over the past four decades, the VRA has helped the U.S. Department of Justice block hundreds of racially discriminatory voting measures in communities across the country. But in June, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the VRA, weakening our right to vote -- what President Ronald Reagan called the "crown jewel of our liberties" when advocating for the reauthorization of the VRA in 1982 -- and putting the nation's democratic system at great risk.

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