WASHINGTON (August 6, 2021)—On the 56th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is calling on Congress to restore the act and pass new voting rights legislation to defend democracy against a rising tide of attacks.
Below is a statement by Taofik Oladipo, Washington government affairs representative for the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.
“Today marks 56 years since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark achievement resulting from the struggles of the civil rights movement. Leaders and activists like the late Representative John Lewis risked their lives to hold this country to its promises of freedom and equal justice for all.
“Unfortunately, more than half a century later, that proud legacy is under attack. The Supreme Court has gutted the Voting Rights Act in multiple decisions, opening the door to abuses of power that threaten our democracy. State legislators hostile to democracy are making the most of this opportunity. In 2021 alone, 18 states have passed 30 new laws restricting the right to vote—restrictions that fall disproportionately on Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other marginalized communities that have fought so hard to secure their rights.
“We know that the health of this country and its most vulnerable communities depends on the health of our democracy. We can’t make good decisions in the public interest when so many people are deliberately excluded from the process. The evidence is clear that attacks on democracy are also attacks on public health and our ability to solve the most pressing issues we face.
“We can’t accept a return to the days when voting was a privilege, selectively given or withheld based on race and social status. We’ve come too far to let this fundamental right be denied. To honor the memory of the civil rights leaders and fallen members of communities who came before us and to ensure today’s voters can participate in free and fair elections, Congress must pass legislation to strengthen our democracy, including the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.”