Rep. Larsen Vice-Chairs First Ever Congressional Voting Rights Caucus

May 24, 2016 Issues: Equality & Opportunity

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) joined his colleagues in launching the first ever Congressional Voting Rights Caucus—created to protect our nation’s democracy by ensuring that the fundamental right to vote is safeguarded for all eligible Americans. Larsen will serve as a Vice-Chair of the Caucus.

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 was signed into law to end decades of racial discrimination and tactics to prevent African Americans and other ethnic minorities from voting. Unfortunately in 2013, the Supreme Court crippled the effectiveness of the VRA by striking down the section of the Act requiring jurisdictions with a history of discrimination against minority voters to clear election changes with the federal government.

“The Voting Rights Act of 1965 broke down barriers for millions of people in our country to more fully participate in our democracy. The Supreme Court decision two years ago cut deeply into the core of the Voting Rights Act, allowing partisan state legislatures to pass voting laws, such as voter identification laws, that are disenfranchising citizens and undermining our democracy.

“We should all be supporting initiatives to protect the right to vote. That is why I introduced the America Votes Act of 2015. This bill would quell voter identification laws by allowing voters to sign a sworn written statement attesting to their identity if they do not have the identification required at their polling place. I based this bill off the model from Washington state where ballots are mailed-in. 

“I joined the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus because voting is a fundamental right that must not be abridged. The fact that so many people face barriers to casting their ballot is destructive to our democracy. This is the first election in my lifetime without the protection of the Voting Rights Act and I hope it is my last,” Larsen said.

The goal of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus is to educate the public on the current voter suppression tactics in place in their home states, districts, and counties, inform constituencies on their rights as voters, and to create and advance legislation that blocks current and future suppressive and discriminatory tactics that deny American citizens the sacred right to vote.

The Caucus will be Co-Chaired by Representative Terri Sewell, (AL-7) and Representative Marc Veasey (TX-33). Rep. Larsen joins as Vice-Chair along with Representative G.K. Butterfield (NC-1), Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Representative David Cicilline (RI-1), and Representative John Conyers (MI-13).