COLUMBUS, OHIO – With one week until Election Day, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representative Joyce Beatty (OH-3) called for passage of legislation aimed at restoring and expanding basic voting protections under the Voting Rights Act. Brown and Beatty pointed to the recent 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to eliminate Ohio’s “Golden Week” as reason why voting protections must remain in place. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted and eliminated “Golden Week” – a period in which voters can register and cast ballots on the same day
“We should be removing barriers to the ballot, not creating them,” Brown, a former two-term Ohio Secretary of State, said. “But partisan efforts in Columbus and in Washington are making it harder for Ohioans to exercise their constitutional rights. That’s why it’s important that we pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 to help restore and expand basic protections that were first passed in 1965. As a former Secretary of State of Ohio, I believe that our democracy is strengthened when more eligible voters can vote. It’s time we pass this bipartisan bill to ensure all Americans can have their voices heard.”
At Bethel AME Church in Columbus, Brown and Beatty were joined by Pastor Dale Snyder – along with leaders from the Interdominational Ministerial Alliance, the Baptist Ministerial Alliance, and the Baptist Pastors Conference – to call for passage of the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014. This bipartisan, bicameral bill is in response to efforts by the U.S. Supreme Court to weaken key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Pastor Snyder highlighted challenges facing his congregation when members try to access the ballot box and called on elected leaders in Ohio to pass this legislation.
The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 would update the coverage formula used to determine which states are in violation of Section 5 of the Act, add more transparency to elections by requiring all states and counties to provide public notice of any changes shortly before an election that may affect voter turnout or alter polling places.
Since 1965, the Voting Rights Act has been reauthorized four times with overwhelming bipartisan support, most recently under President George W. Bush who signed the reauthorization into law with 390 votes in the U.S. House of Representatives and 98 votes in the U.S. Senate.
The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 has 175 bipartisan cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Ohio Representatives Steve Chabot (OH-1), Michael Turner (OH-10), Joyce Beatty (OH-3), and Marcia Fudge (OH-11). Brown and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) are currently the only two Senate cosponsors not on the Senate Judiciary Committee.