Fighting to Protect Voting Rights

Voting Rights
Democrats are working to restore voting protections and ensure every American can exercise the right to vote.

Every election, Americans head to the polls to exercise their most fundamental right – the right to vote. Unfortunately, Republicans at the state and federal levels have launched an unprecedented attack on voting rights. Over the past few years, measures have been introduced by Republicans in state legislatures across the country that would make it harder for millions of eligible voters to register or vote. This summer, House Republicans unveiled a funding bill that would shut down the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which was established by the Help America Vote Act in 2002.  The EAC helps states share and implement best practices in voting technology and provides resources to help protect voter data and keep voting accountable. 

In addition, President Trump continues to make unsubstantiated claims that millions of Americans voted illegally in the last election, and he has launched a commission to suppress voting and exclude millions of eligible voters from casting their ballot.  The commission is led by a state official known for purging voter rolls and making ballot access more restrictive, and one of the first acts of the commission was to demand Americans’ private information, which could be used to intimidate voters and restrict their right to vote.  Already, there have been reports of some voters de-registering in order to protect their personal information from being taken by the Trump Administration.

House Democrats will not stand for these partisan efforts to hinder access to the ballot. In June, House Democrats reintroduced the Voter Empowerment Act in the House of Representatives to ensure equal access to the ballot for every eligible voter by modernizing our voter registration system to help more Americans participate and taking steps to eliminate deceptive practices that deter voters from casting their ballots. House Democrats have also introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore the voting rights protections struck down by the Supreme Court in the flawed Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

Democrats continue to urge House Republican leaders to bring these bills to the Floor so that we can assure all Americans that their right to vote will be protected.

Voting Rights Related

Thank you very much. Some years ago, when the Republicans were in charge of Congress, I sponsored the Help America Vote Act as a result of the challenge that we had in Florida, and the 5 people elected the President of the United States, making the determination.


If Russian operatives were successful in hacking into servers in thirty-nine states connected to voting systems and elections personnel, we ought to be very concerned about the security of future elections.


Today’s decision by the Supreme Court not to revisit last year’s case against North Carolina’s 2013 voting changes ought to send a signal to Republican-led states that adopting tough voter-ID requirement and limitations on early voting and same-day registration will be seen for what they are: discriminatory measures intended to limit minorities’ access to the ballot box.  


If the White House intends to create a commission to investigate voter suppression in this country, I hope its focus will be on the actual suppression of the voting rights of minorities, seniors, and students in states where Republican lawmakers have imposed barriers to ballot access since the terrible Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court ruling in 2013.


As a former Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, I was deeply saddened to learn of the killing of an American OSCE medic in eastern Ukraine from a mine placed by Russian-backed separatists. 


On National Voter Registration Day, it is important to remember that the right to register and vote was not always guaranteed or respected in our country.  


House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down North Carolina's discriminatory voter identification requirement.



Yesterday, Speaker Paul Ryan had some alarming news for members of the Congressional Black Caucus – he supports legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act, but he isn’t willing to bring a bipartisan bill to the Floor. Apparently, he “can’t do that.”

From the Hill:


As we begin the new year and the Second Session of the 114th Congress, newly elected Speaker Paul Ryan has an opportunity to turn the page on the bitter partisanship of the past few years and show that he is willing to work across the aisle to get things done for the American people.  The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that “House Speaker Paul Ryan starting this month will push to turn the chamber into a platform for ambitious Republican policy ideas.”  But evidence points to the contrary, with the first items on the House’s agenda for 2016 being the sixty-second vote to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act, the eleventh vote to attack women’s health, and several bills that would undermine consumer safety, workplace safety, and environmental protections.  House Republican leaders know these bills will never become law, yet they continue to pander to the far right with political messaging bills instead of bringing substantive, bipartisan legislation to the Floor. It is also unfortunate that Speaker Ryan has already taken issues such as comprehensive immigration reform and an expansion of paid family and medical leave off of the table. 


As we begin the second session of the 114th Congress, there are a number of critical issues the American people expect to see Congress address.


This week, I join in marking two important anniversaries that are milestones on our nation’s continuing march toward full equality for all. 


WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined House Democratic leaders at a press conference today urging Congress to protect every American’s right to vote by passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015. Below is a transcript of his remarks:

“Thank you very much, Leader Pelosi. Thank you very much, Assistant Leader Clyburn. And thank you very much, Terri Sewell, the Representative of Selma, Alabama, which has been made so famous in the effort to make sure that everybody can vote.


Twenty years ago, the Million Man March raised the consciousness of our nation and made it clear that challenges affecting African Americans could not be ignored by policymakers in Washington. 


When the Voting Rights Act was passed, [Senator] Patrick Leahy and I were in law school just a few blocks from here at Georgetown Law School.


Two years ago, the equal access of every American to vote in our elections was dealt a serious blow by the Supreme Court, which invalidated part of the landmark Voting Rights Act that Congress passed and President Johnson signed in the wake of “Bloody Sunday” and the Selma-to-Montgomery marches in 1965.  


There is no more important act in our democracy than casting one’s vote and having one’s voice heard equally in our government, which is why I’m pleased that Reps. Terri Sewell, John Lewis, Linda Sanchez, and Judy Chu introduced legislation today to restore the voting rights protections struck down by the Supreme Court two years ago this week.


Mr. Speaker, when the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 to invalidate the preclearance formula in the original Voting Rights Act, it issued a challenge to Congress to pass an updated one. 


There is no reason why the Senate cannot vote immediately on the confirmation of Loretta Lynch to be our nation's next Attorney General.


I’m pleased to be joining Civil Rights Movement hero Rep. John Lewis, Assistant Leader Clyburn, Ranking Member Conyers, and Ranking Member Brady today to reintroduce the Voter Empowerment Act.


Mr. Speaker, I was proud to join many Members of this House in Birmingham, Selma, and Montgomery, Alabama, from March 6th to 8th to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday,’  which led inexorably to the signing of the Voting Rights Act in August of that same year in 1965.


Thank you Saint John. What a wonderful experience this is for all of us. We owe [Representative] John [Lewis] and Doug [Tanner, Founder of the Faith & Politics Institute] for what they achieved in the past and for all that they continue to do today through the Faith & Politics Institute. 


This weekend we mark the 50th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday,’ when on March 7, 1965, a determined group of Civil Rights activists set out from Selma on a march to the State Capitol in Montgomery to demand the right to register and to vote. 


Today the Congress came together in a spirit of bipartisanship to honor those who marched for voting rights in Selma fifty years ago. 


I am deeply concerned and disappointed by comments from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte that Congress does not need to take corrective action to address the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Shelby v Holder, which guts one of the most important and effective provisions ever enacted to combat voter discrimination.