SEIU members are calling on Congress to act now to restore a historic civil rights law on voting rights and protect all voters from new forms of discrimination at the polls. It's not too late to add your voice to the more than 11,000 people who have already signed a petition we will submit together with tens of thousands of others from civil rights allies within the next 24 hours.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most important and successful civil rights laws ever enacted by the U.S. Congress, banned racism at polling places. A year ago, the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the law, kicking open the door for a new wave of voter suppression laws across the country.
In some states, especially Southern ones, it used to be difficult for people of color to vote at all. The Voting Rights Act helped end that, essentially banning poll taxes, literary tests or property ownership requirements. It carried forward the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many others to ensure communities of color have a voice in our political process.
But the Supreme Court's narrow 5-4 vote in 2013 undid part of the law. Conservatives on the court ruled that the 1965 law had "served its purpose" and "does not reflect racial progress" in America to date. Within hours of the decision, several states in the South immediately announced that they would pursue onerous new voter identification laws that make it harder for African Americans and Latinos to vote.