NAACP rallies to protect the Voting Rights Act

February 27, the NAACP, with allies, joined forces to rally and defend the Voting Rights Act. Activists from across the country called the attention to the United States Supreme Court’s review of the federal law in the case of Shelby County v. Holder. The case questions the constitutionality of a critical provision of the Voting Rights Act--Section 5

The pending decision by the court threatens to erase fifty years of voting protections. NAACP leaders made the following statements in support of the federal law:

"The NAACP has always fought for voting rights and will never stop advocating for unfettered access to the ballot box for all Americans," stated Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. "We are driven by the legacy of those who sacrificed time, resources, and in many cases, their lives for this fundamental right. We must ensure that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is preserved."

“This case comes on the heels of an election year in which our nation witnessed the greatest assault on voting rights since the Jim Crow era,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP. “Section 5 is the heart of the VRA. Shelby County v. Holder threatens to erode the essential protections that Section 5 provides for all Americans. “

“I think it is important for people across America to rally for this piece of legislation that is at jeopardy,” said Benard Simelton, President of the NAACP Alabama State Conference. “Too many have died and suffered for the fundamental and basic right to vote. We must continue our efforts to ensure that everyone’s votes are counted, regardless of race, creed, or color.”

“The Shelby County case is a major marker in our nations march towards the kind of just society Dr. King had envisioned,” said Gary Bledsoe, President of the NAACP Texas State Conference. “At this point we will either turn back the clock and reignite the fires of the past, or we will continue to move in a direction that recognizes that every citizens basic and fundamental rights, such as the right to vote.”

“We are mobilizing NAACP members and units across the nation, from Alaska to Florida,” said Jotaka Eaddy, Senior Director for Voting Rights. “We encourage all those that fight for voting rights to join the NAACP and its allies on the steps of the Supreme Court as we fight for democracy.”

The Voting Rights Act, signed into law in 1965 and reauthorized with bipartisan support in 2006, allows the Department of Justice to defend against discriminatory voting practices.  Section 5 of the Act gives the Department of Justice the ability to block discriminatory voting laws before they are enacted in states or sections of states with an egregious history of voter suppression.

The NAACP’s Alabama State Conference is an intervener in the case and the Texas, South Carolina and Florida State Conferences have filed an amicus brief in support of Section 5.  In addition to defending the Voting Rights Act at the Supreme Court, NAACP leaders will work with state and local officials to pass laws to expand voting rights, including same day registration/voting, extended early voting, and restoring voting rights for the formerly incarcerated.

The NAACP vows to battle suppression tactics state by state.