Groups call for move on voting rights bill
WASHINGTON — A coalition of religious groups wants Congress to act on bipartisan legislation that would require some states, including Mississippi, to again get pre-approval from federal officials before making changes to their election systems.
The legislation is a response to a Supreme Court ruling last year that threw out a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
“We feel a tremendous obligation to work on this issue,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc, one of the groups that sent a letter to Congress. “This is just absolutely a moral issue. It's a sacred right that we're talking about, which is the right to vote. We do think with enough of us making a concerted and joint effort, we can make progress on this issue.”
National civil rights groups are pursuing the same goal, even as they start voter registration drives to get more minorities to the polls. The groups are invoking memories of “Freedom Summer,” when volunteers traveled to Mississippi to register blacks to vote in 1964, to give their effort emotional momentum.
Supporters of the voting rights measure, mostly Democrats, say the bill appears to have stalled since it was introduced earlier this year. Neither the Senate nor the House has scheduled hearings.
“We're working on it,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana. “I like the bill, but the question just becomes how many Republicans are willing to step up and vote on something like that before elections, and whether their leadership would make them do it.”
“I fully support protecting the voting rights of all Americans,” Virginia Republican Rep. Robert Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “As Congress determines whether additional steps are needed to protect those rights, I will carefully consider legislative proposals addressing the issue.”
The bill, called the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014, was proposed by Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., to revise the Voting Rights Act in response to the Supreme Court decision. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has a companion bill in the Senate.
The court's ruling threw out the formula in the 1965 law that determined which states and other jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination had to obtain “pre-clearance” from federal officials before making changes to their election systems.
Under the proposal, states with at least five voting rights violations in the past 15 years would be subject to pre-clearance, and one of those violations would have to be statewide. Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas would be covered.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Pederson had to go at Pitt
- Penguins’ Fleury tests negative for mumps; Crosby skates with team
- Judge dismisses littering charge against City Council president Kraus
- Steelers, young and old, thirst for opportunity to reach the postseason
- Pittsburgh Public Schools adopts no-tax-increase budget for 2015
- Pederson’s 2nd tenure as the athletic director at Pitt comes to abrupt end
- Public Utility Commission grants Lyft license to operate
- QB Smith is chief concern for Steelers’ defense
- Butler’s chief clerk files discrimination, retaliation complaint
- Armstrong man dies in single-vehicle crash
- Chryst returns home, named football coach at Wisconsin