Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), testified before the House Judiciary Committee today about H.R.1, the For the People Act, a comprehensive package of democracy reforms, and the beginning of a larger legislative effort to restore the Voting Rights Act to its full strength.
LDF’s testimony underscores that H.R. 1 is the first major bill of the 116th Congress containing reforms that address a number of issues currently undermining our democracy. It includes critical proposals such as restoring voting rights in federal elections to individuals who have a criminal record, impacting upwards of five million Americans, prohibiting the use of deceptive practices and preventing voter intimidation. However, it is clear that the For the People Act also begins a larger and necessary effort to restore the Voting Rights Act since it was weakened in 2013. Evidence of widespread discrimination against Black voters is overwhelming and continuing to grow and thus the need for legislative action never more urgent. We must reinstate federal oversight over areas of our country unleashing rampant voter suppression.
“The ever-growing record of discriminatory voting changes since the Shelby County decision requires Congress to fulfill its obligation to protect the right of every eligible voter to vote and have their vote count. With roughly 10 federal court decisions finding that states or localities intentionally discriminated against voters of color just since 2013, there is no doubt that race discrimination in voting is an endeavor pursued relentlessly by its proponents. LDF and other civil rights law organizations are using both litigation and public advocacy to aggressively combat the repeated attacks on voting rights that have occurred in the absence of Section 5’s enforcement authority. However, only Congress has the ultimate authority to enforce the anti-discrimination principle articulated in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Thus, as called for in HR 1, we urge Congress to begin the hearing process on legislation that would restore the VRA. This hearing and fact-gathering process must be thoughtful, rigorous, and driven ultimately by the need to collect the best evidence to support the full restoration of the VRA. We also urge Congress to deploy the other provisions of HR 1 to ensure our democracy and political process is fully functioning, fair accessible to all.”
Read the full testimony here.