Yesterday, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez met with civil rights leaders, and state and local elected officials at the White House to discuss how to safeguard every eligible American’s right to vote in light of the recent Supreme Court decision on Shelby County vs. Holder.
The Supreme Court’s decision invalidating one of the Voting Rights Act’s core provisions, upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent.
President Obama acknowledged that for nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act has helped secure the right to vote for millions of Americans, and expressed deep disappointment about the recent decision. He asked the leaders in the room for their ideas on how to strengthen voting rights, and also encouraged them to continue educating their communities on the Voting Rights Act, and how to exercise voting rights.
We’ve seen much progress towards guaranteeing every American the right to vote. But, as the Supreme Court recognized, voting discrimination still exists. And while the decision is a setback, it doesn’t represent the end of either our efforts to end voting discrimination, or our basic right to vote.
Since the decision, President Obama has called on Congress to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to the polls. The Voting Rights Act has been reauthorized repeatedly by wide bipartisan margins in Congress, and signed into law by Republican presidents. In addition, every single American should have an interest in ensuring that every eligible American is able to exercise his or her right to vote. So we remain hopeful that we will find a legislative solution to ensure a fair, and equal voting process.
Yesterday’s meeting was another step forward to protect the vote, and we will continue to do everything in our power to secure this most basic right for all Americans.
Yesterday’s participants included: