Forty-ninth anniversaries don’t usually garner much attention, but today a 49th anniversary—though filled with pathos—is worth commemorating. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on August 6, 1964. Often called the “crown jewel” of the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act has now lost a bit of its luster, tarnished by the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder.
North Carolina, home of the Tar Heels, Krispy Kreme Donuts, the stunning Outer Banks, and as Project Vote recently experienced, an amazing range of organizations that share a passion for helping their community get registered to vote!
“All saints have a past, and all sinners have a future.” Panelist Carl Wicklund shared this old Irish quote in his remarks during the July 22 Bipartisan Panel on Restoring Voting Rights. The event, organized by the ACLU and the Brennan Center for Justice, featured opening remarks by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rand Paul (R-KY), both of whom have introduced legislation that would restore voting rights to those convicted of crimes.
Recently, five forward-looking members of Congress introduced the “Equal Access to Support Youth Voting Act” or “EASY” (H.R. 5144). It should be easy to pass. It is a common sense reform that would help students, one of the very populations that we’re always hoping will become more involved in the democratic process. Unfortunately, like so many other common sense election reform bills in recent years, this one will not be easy to pass.