Rep. Sewell Leads Voting Rights Hearing with U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, September 27, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) led a voting rights hearing to examine a recent report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) on minority access to voting. The hearing was co-hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). Witnesses included USCCR Chair Catherine Lhamon, USCCR Vice Chair Patricia Timmons-Goodson, and USCCR Commissioner Debo Adegbile.
“Today, Members of Congress heard directly from our nation’s federal civil rights watchdog, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, about the state of minority access to voting,” said Rep. Terri Sewell. “The Commissioners at today’s hearing highlighted disturbing trends in voter suppression which have taken shape since the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, including cuts to polling places, voting hours, and multilingual voting materials as well as strict voter ID laws and wrongful voter purges. Voting is a right, not a privilege, and today’s hearing gave Members of Congress the information we need to strengthen our fight against voter discrimination and suppression. With the midterm elections just around the corner, the time is now for Congress to restore the vote by passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act!”
Released on September 12, USCCR’s An Assessment of Minority Voting Rights Access in the United States documents ongoing discrimination in voting procedures enacted by states and localities across the country and the rollback of voting rights since the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The full report by USCCR is available here.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) seeks to restore full protections to the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 after the Supreme Court gutted the VRA on June 25, 2013. To address the Supreme Court’s concerns with the VRA, the VRAA creates a new coverage formula which applies to states with repeated voting rights violations in the last 25 years. Should this legislation pass into law, 13 states nationwide would be subject to federal election oversight due to a recent history of voter discrimination.
Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) is serving her fourth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional district. She sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and was recently appointed to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Sewell is a Chief Deputy Whip and serves on the prestigious Steering and Policy Committee of the Democratic Caucus. She is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and serves as Vice Chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, and Vice Chair of Outreach for the New Democrat Coalition.