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Public Statements

Blog: Defending the Right to Vote


Location: Unknown

Dear Fellow Coloradan,

The right to vote forms the foundation of our democratic society -- and it is a right we must work tirelessly to protect. But following decades of progress toward giving every American access to the ballot box, our voting rights recently suffered a significant setback.

In a troubling, activist ruling earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a central component of the Voting Rights Act, a civil rights milestone that has helped keep discrimination out of the voting booth for over 40 years.

This week, as we mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, we must stand united once again to restore the Voting Rights Act -- and affirm all of our nation's important strides toward expanding democratic participation.

Before the court's ruling, the Voting Rights Act required those states and counties with a history of discriminatory voting practices to seek approval for any changes to their voting procedures with the U.S. Department of Justice. This common-sense system of checks and balances safeguarded the voting rights of African Americans, Latinos and other historically disenfranchised groups. But the Supreme Court struck down the part of the law outlining which states need this heightened protection -- thus jeopardizing access to the ballot box for potentially millions of voters nationwide.

Now is not the time to turn back the clock on democracy. We must take action to reinstate the Voting Rights Act.

Since it became law in 1965, the Voting Rights Act has enjoyed broad bipartisan support. As recently as 2006, the Senate overwhelmingly reauthorized the Voting Rights Act and its commitment to equal rights by a vote of 98-0. But now, in the wake of the Supreme Court's misguided ruling, there are some in Congress who aren't interested in restoring the Voting Rights Act and the franchise that it protected.

These members of Congress could learn a thing or two about the way we do things in Colorado. As the first state to vote to recognize women's right to vote in 1893, Colorado has led the way on expanding and protecting our rights at the ballot box.

Congress must again take up the Voting Rights Act and affirm that our nation will never forget the hard-won victories of the Civil Rights Movement -- and all the important strides that came before, including granting women the right to vote through the Nineteenth Amendment's ratification in the 1920s to the toppling of Jim Crow laws in the 1960s.

I hope that you will stand with me today and urge Congress to once again come together to pass a strong Voting Rights Act.

Warm regards,
Mark Udall

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