voting rights act (1965)*On Thursday (01-16-14), former Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R. Wis.), ranking Judiciary Committee member John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and a bipartisan contingent of lawmakers introduced H.R .3899, The Voting Rights Amendment Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-VT plans to file identical legislation in the Senate.

We have two responses to the legislation. One from the NAACP and one from Rev. Al Sharpton.

The following is a statement from Lorraine C. Miller, Interim President and CEO, NAACP:

The NAACP appreciates that the U.S. Congress has made a bipartisan effort to update the Voting Rights Act, however we have serious concerns about the ability of some provisions in this bill to protect ALL voters from discrimination at the polls.

As the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots civil rights organization we have the responsibility to ensure that any proposed legislation is in the best interest of our members, our community and our country.  Participation in our democracy should be unfettered and all votes should be properly counted.  From the exceptions for voter ID laws to decreased preclearance coverage to increased reliance on costly litigation, there are essential revisions and amendments to this bill that must take place to ensure ALL voters have fair and equitable access to the ballot box.

 This statement is from Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network:

The National Action Network applaud the bipartisan group of lawmakers who introduced legislation today that will restore protections in the Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the Supreme Court last year.  National Action Network (NAN) is relieved to see that the issue of protecting the right to vote has remained a nonpartisan issue and we appreciate the leadership, hard work and commitment of Congressmen Sensenbrenner and Conyers along with Senator Leahy on addressing the vacancy that was created after the Supreme Court decision in June 2013 in the case of Shelby County v. Holder.  While we recognize the effort and progress that has gone into creating this piece of legislation, we do have concerns about some of the provisions that we look forward to working with other civil rights organizations and Congress to build on the progress that has been made thus far to ensure that all voters are protected.