NASW Applauds Congress on Bipartisan Voting Rights Bill

Legislation will fix Supreme Court concerns and protect voters against discrimination at the polls

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Association of Social Workers commends a bipartisan group of lawmakers for introducing legislation that would address the U.S. Supreme Court’s concerns with the Voting Rights Act (VRA), protect voters against discrimination, and ensure all Americans are guaranteed their right to vote.

The legislation comes from Representatives James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), John Conyers (D-MI), Bobby Scott (D-VA) and John Lewis (D-GA) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT). It offers common sense fixes to modernize the Voting Rights Act, including new formulas to determine states and jurisdictions that may be discriminating against voters.

“NASW supports this bipartisan legislation and urges Congress quickly pass this bill in order to modernize VRA,” said NASW CEO Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW. “This is an important issue for our profession because social workers have long fought to ensure equal voting rights for all. In fact, civil rights leader and past NASW President Whitney M. Young Jr. fought for and eventually won passage of the original Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in June made a disturbing ruling that was a major setback for voting rights. In Shelby County v. Holder, the court ruled that Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional for identifying jurisdictions that must submit voting changes for federal review (pre-clearance) before they can be implemented.
While many experts believed the court would find Section 5 or pre-clearance unconstitutional, ruling Section 4 (b) unconstitutional effectively makes section 5 “toothless” unless Congress enacted a new coverage formula. The legislation introduced today should remedy this.

“Historically the Voting Rights Act has gained wide bipartisan support and we expect the same for this legislation,” McClain said. “This legislation is not about whether we are Republicans, Democrats or Independents. It’s about us working together to ensure everybody has an equal chance to cast a ballot.”

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers with 130,000 members. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.
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