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Voting rights are in peril, and democracy hangs in the balance

Jotaka Eaddy | 7/3/2014, 6 a.m.

Now is the time to act. On June 25 the NAACP will recognize the one-year mark of the Shelby v. Holder decision by urging Congress to pass a Voting Rights Amendment Act that protects voters and fixes the Voting Rights Act.

We applaud the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary for scheduling a hearing on the VRAA. But we implore the U.S. House of Representatives, particularly the House Judiciary Committee, to follow suit and quickly schedule a hearing on this necessary legislation.

Already garnering bipartisan support, the legislation provides common-sense solutions to prevent discrimination against all voters regardless of race, including remedies to address current discrimination as it occurs, the ability to review voting changes in places that have engaged in discrimination in the present and recent past, and better public notification of potential voting changes to enhance accountability.

Inaction cannot be an option. Every day that Congress fails to act, local municipalities and state legislatures across the United States have the ability to pass election changes that could discourage, diminish or eliminate the voting power of whole communities — all with no checks and balances.

Our democracy is in jeopardy. And it is up to us — all of us — to fight to preserve it. The future of our democracy depends on it.

Jotaka Eaddy is the senior adviser to the president and CEO, and senior director of voting rights, at the NAACP.