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John Kerry on the 40th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

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John Kerry on the 40th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

"This month we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. It's a time to honor the law that helped make the United States the world's greatest shining example of democracy. It should also be a time to acknowledge that we've got work to do to ensure that every American's right to vote is a reality.

"No one in the United States should walk out of a voting booth on Election Day and fear their vote might not be counted. No eligible voter should approach their polling place and fear that they will be intimidated or denied their right to vote. And no American should lose their chance to vote because the lines were too long due to a shortage of machines.

"Real election reform means passing the Count Every Vote Act of 2005, which seeks to end absurdly long lines, the erroneous purging of voters, voter suppression and intimidation, and unequal access to the voting process. The Count Every Vote Act would also incorporate a voter-verified paper trail for use by all voters, including those for whom English is a second language, illiterate voters and voters with disabilities - and mandates national standards in a variety of areas, including voter registration and counting provisional ballots.

"Real electoral reform also means fully funding the Help America Vote Act, funding the activities of the Election Assistance Commission, and helping states invest in better voting machines with paper trails. That means putting partisan politics aside and joining together as proud citizens to eliminate barriers to voting, encourage the greatest level of civic participation possible, and restore the confidence of the American people.

"One of the most significant ways we must continue the fight for civil rights and voting rights is with the nomination of our next Supreme Court Justice. We all know the crucial role the Supreme Court plays in protecting and preserving voting rights and civil rights. So far, what we've learned about Judge Roberts' record on these areas is troubling, and I intend to keep pressing for all the relevant information on his record so the Senate can make an informed decision on this lifetime appointment.

"I hope Washington can come together to make election reform a reality, because there is no greater right than the right to vote. This precious right was hard-fought by brave American citizens who risked their lives to register voters, who marched, who stared down Bull Connor's police dogs, who faced the threat of lynching, and some who even lost their lives fighting to open up the polls and make the right to vote real for every American.

"Our troops have helped people in Iraq and Afghanistan vote. It's our responsibility to do everything we can to strengthen democracy for all Americans here at home."

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