Last year, more than half a century after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, thirty-four states attempted to pass legislation that would impose unreasonable voting restrictions or absurd penalties limiting the registration process. Despite the efforts of civil rights groups and others, these bills have become law in 14 states, with bills in 26 states still pending.
This coordinated attack on the rights of citizens to participate in their government comes at a particularly perilous time for communities of color. The African American unemployment rate is hovering above 13%. Latino unemployment stands at nearly 11%. And as various “Occupy” movements across the country have made clear, millions of Americans are fed up with growing income inequality. Our own 2012 State of Black America “Equality Index” finds the economic status of African Americans relative to Whites is only 56.3%. For Hispanics the economic Equality Index is 60%. In a moment that cries out for greater civic participation, some are intent on silencing our voices and taking away the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of democracy – the right to vote.
Fortunately, this issue is catching fire in Washington and throughout the nation. Citizens across the country are joining the U.S. Department of Justice, civil rights groups and the Congressional Black Caucus in challenging these blatant attacks on voting rights (Marc Morial- National Urban League).