Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and 22 of their colleagues introduced a Senate Resolution to recognize, commemorate, and celebrate the 55th anniversary of the enactment of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. President Lyndon Johnson proposed the legislation just days after the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, during which the late Representative John Lewis was savagely beaten by law enforcement officers while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge on what was to become known as "Bloody Sunday." The Voting Rights Act passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Johnson on August 6, 1965.
Since 2013, many states have passed discriminatory voting laws that have made it more difficult for people of color and low-income individuals to vote in elections. Nearly 1,200 polling locations have closed since the Supreme Court's 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The country is witnessing a spread of voter suppression laws sweep across the country. From voter identification laws, to voter roll purges, elected officials are making it hard for Americans to vote. This resolution affirms the Senate's commitment to modernizing and strengthening the Act through further legislative efforts.
"55 years later, the Voting Rights Act remains a powerful reminder that America can move closer to our highest ideals -- but only if we insist on it, work at it, and take seriously our responsibility as citizens in this democracy," said Bennet. "Today that means protecting our right to vote from threats like voter suppression, partisan gerrymandering, disinformation, and elections awash in special interest money. It also means not only celebrating the Voting Rights Act, but strengthening it for the 21st century."
"Today we commemorate and remember those who fought so hard and gave so much for the right to vote and celebrate the anniversary of this historic legislation," said Markey. "But we cannot stop there. We must commit ourselves to fully restoring and strengthening the Voting Rights Act, and to fighting any effort to suppress voting."
In addition to Bennet and Markey, the resolution is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
The text of the resolution is available HERE.