Washington, DC — People For the American Way (PFAW) today delivered the first batch of citizen petitions calling for the immediate passage of the Voting Rights Act to the offices of the House leadership: Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
PFAW Public Policy Director Tanya House delivered the petitions, signed by 32,000 citizens around the nation. The petition reads:
"For more than 40 years, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) has protected the right of every American citizen to cast a vote. Equality in voting is fundamental to the American democratic system. Stop the stalling and pass the Voting Rights Act now!"
The historic 1965 Voting Rights Act was one of the premier achievements of the civil rights movement. It protects the voting rights of minority groups and provides for ballot assistance in minority languages from Spanish to Japanese to Lakota. The VRA was on its way to bipartisan passage in the House and the Senate when it was derailed by a revolt of right-wing House members in the Republican caucus last Wednesday. PFAW launched its petition Saturday, and the signatures began pouring in.
“The backlash has been enormous. People across the country are outraged at this attack on the Voting Rights Act, and this is just the beginning. Unless the House Republican leadership puts this back on track, they are going to see continued opposition across the country,” House said.
Allies in a broad coalition supporting the VRA, including the NAACP, the National Education Association, MALDEF, LULAC and the ACLU are asking their members to sign the PFAW petition or are launching similar petition drives, and more petitions will be delivered to Capitol Hill in the coming weeks. Activists have voiced their anger in calls to the offices of the House leadership and the members of Congress who are publicly blocking the reauthorization.
“Our first, best hope is that the members opposing this historic legislation will change course, and allow it to proceed unchanged. However, we stand ready to marshal even greater opposition if they persist. The Voting Rights Act protects the right of every American to vote. It must not be blocked,” House said.
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