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Letter: Pass new protections for voting rights

Voting booths at the Bellport Middle School on

Voting booths at the Bellport Middle School on May 15, 2012. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Aug. 6 marked the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, perhaps the most important civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress ["Voting milestone," News, Aug. 7].

The act won significant bipartisan support and prohibited discriminatory voting methods, which have denied or limited racial, ethnic and language minorities the ability to vote. Congress reauthorized this law four times, always with bipartisan support.

However, the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder weakened the U.S. Department of Justice's enforcement power over voting rights.

A legislative remedy is simple. Two bills have been introduced in Congress -- the Voting Rights Amendment Act and the Voting Rights Advancement Act. They would provide suitable remedies for voting discrimination or suppression. The latter bill is more comprehensive.

It's ironic that while we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the original act and honor its ideals and commitments, Congress has failed to fulfill its role by passing remedial bills. Neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate has scheduled hearings on the new voting rights bills, nor have any committee or floor votes taken place.

Another presidential election year is approaching, and we have fewer voting protections than at any time since 1965. This is leadership by Congress?

David Stonehill, Merrick

Editor's note: The writer is a lawyer and the communications chairman for Voting Rights Forward, an advocacy organization.


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