As the 2016 presidential Election Day looms, Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) delivered a special message focusing on protecting Black progress at the ballot box.
During this week’s CBC Message to America, Rep. Cummings said there are “blatant attempts” being made to deny African Americans the right to vote.
Reminding viewers of the sacrifices made to secure voting rights for all in America, Cummings said, “The right to vote is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans. It ensures that we each have a voice in this democracy.”
According to the Congressman from Maryland, in 2012, for the first time in any United States election, “eligible African-Americans voted at a higher rate than White Americans.”
In 2013, the Supreme Court rolled back key protections of the Voting Rights Act in the Shelby County v. Holder case. This landmark ruling removed one of the most effective tools the federal government has used to prevent states from passing laws that could disenfranchise African-Americans.
“It should come as no surprise that Republican-controlled state governments nationwide saw this as their opportunity to pass some of the most egregious voter suppression legislation since Jim Crow,” said Cummings.
One of the worst voter suppression laws came by way of the North Carolina omnibus voter suppression law, which limited early voting, required photo ID, and eliminated same-day voter registrations.
Rep. Cummings reminded the nation the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit “thankfully recognized this law for what it was and struck it down.”
He quoted the ruling as stating the law, “Targeted African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” Despite the ruling, 14 other states will have voter suppression laws active during this year’s presidential election on November 8th. Cummings said, “Voters in all those states will face significant hurdles to accessing the ballot box.
“It is clear that we cannot rely solely on the courts … Congress must act,” Rep. Cummings said, challenging Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to “bring legislation to restore and update the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act to the House floor … We know there is bi-partisan support for this legislation.”
Prior to concluding his remarks, Cummings said, “The proliferation of voter suppression legislation in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision is proof that the protections of the Voting Rights Act are still very much needed in this nation today.
“Many people died for the right to vote and it is Congressional malpractice to sit by and watch that right dissolve.”
For more information about the Congressional Black Caucus, visit cbc-butterfield.house.gov.