Description

Free and fair elections are a cornerstone of democracy. However, for the duration of its history, the United States has been plagued by disenfranchisement and voter suppression. The 1965 Voting Rights Act, partly drafted in the Religious Action Center's library, was a monumental step forward in protecting the freedom to vote. It helped block laws that denied Americans the equal right to vote based on race and enacted federal voting protections. Yet in the past two decades, Americans' access to the ballot box has been curtailed through a range of actions.

The 2013 Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision gutted a crucial part of the Voting Rights Act which contained a formula requiring certain areas with a history of disenfranchisement problems to seek pre-clearance from the Department of Justice when making changes to election procedures. Just 24 hours after the release of the Shelby decision, Texas announced a plan to implement a strict photo ID requirement for voting. Since then, more than 440 laws that would restrict American's freedom to vote have been introduced in 49 states, which would overwhelmingly impact and limit access to the ballot for Communities of Color. Along with our partners, the Reform Movement continues to push for a restoration of the voting rights act and efforts to ensure equal access to the freedom to vote so that the promise of democracy is made real for us all.

Take Action

Urge your Senators to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act

The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act (H.R. 5746) would restore critical protections against racially discriminatory laws and move us toward a democracy that responds to the needs and priorities of voters. The right to vote is fundamental in a democracy and we must ensure that elections are accessible for all. Filibuster reform, if needed to pass this critical bill, and the provisions in this bill are essential to ensure that Americans’ freedom to vote is protected.

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Sign outside polling place that says: Vote Here

What's New

Every Voice, Every Vote and Reproductive Rights Update

May 17, 2022
On Tuesday evening, we launched the Reform Movement's Every Voice, Every Vote campaign, our nonpartisan initiative to strengthen democracy by encouraging and protecting voter participation. As if this effort was not urgent enough already, the leaked draft Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization made clear that every issue of importance to our Movement is on the ballot this year, including abortion rights.

Our Votes Matter This November - Especially on the Local Level

October 28, 2021
In 2016, WRJ focused on reproductive rights, gun violence, pay equity, health care, and immigration as issues that were and remain key to making educated choices in how to vote. Today, however, we see the ability to vote itself threatened. Just this year, 19 states enacted 33 laws making it harder for their citizens to vote. In the absence of federal voting right legislation, it is becoming apparent that it is at the local level, especially in this current local election cycle and in the 2022 mid-terms, where the future of our democracy will be played out.

On Voting Rights

August 5, 2021
I was asked to join the RAC’s Racial Justice Campaign leadership and research teams in February as they began work on their next advocacy campaign. I was also honored to be a speaker at the kick-off for the Freedom to Vote campaign. At the core of all social work is protecting the right to vote and ensuring that everyone has the freedom to vote, which the RAC has worked on for over 60 years. Black and brown people in this country have been disenfranchised at the ballot box for too long and without ensuring equal access to voting, there cannot be any progress towards other issues that our movement cares about.

Related Press Releases

Reform Judaism's Resolutions on Civil Rights and Voting Rights

Learn more about the position of the Reform Movement on these key issues, and read the formal resolutions by URJ and CCAR.

View URJ Resolutions View Resolutions From Our Partners

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RAC Legislative Updates

Learn more about the RAC's key issues and get involved by signing up for the legislative updates newsletter.

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Contact Our Legislative Assistants

For more information on this issue, Contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Israel Harris at (202) 543 3651.