WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).  

“The 50th anniversary of the VRA is bittersweet. As we celebrate the landmark legislation that gave force to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, voting rights are under attack and voter participation is at an historic low.

“In 2014, less than half of eligible voters in 43 states voted and national turnout was only 34 percent, the lowest in seven decades. Supreme Court rulings like Shelby County, McCuthceon, and Citizens United made it easier to buy an election than vote in one. Harmful legislation like voter ID laws keep some 21 million Americans from voting, a disproportionate number of which are elderly, low-income, people of color, LGBT, or have a disability.

“This is not a coincidence. It is a systematic effort to keep the very people the VRA is designed to protect from exercising their right to vote. These partisan tactics run counter to America’s fundamental values of inclusion, fairness, and equality.  

“We need to act this year to restore the Voting Rights Act. But we can’t stop there. While Republicans chip away at voting rights, members of the Progressive Caucus are working to improve our democracy by making it easier to vote with legislation like automatic registration, same day voting, early voting, re-enfranchisement for formerly incarcerated Americans who have paid their debt to society, and a constitutional amendment enumerating the right to vote.

“Today, we celebrate American heroes like the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and our CPC colleague, Representative John Lewis, who sacrificed tremendously to bring equality to our most fundamental right. We must also remember that our democracy hinges on the right to vote, and we must be vigilant in our defense of that right.”