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As we’ve seen in the Arizona and North Carolina primaries, the Shelby decision has ushered in a renaissance of voter disenfranchisement and Congress must step in to stop it before the general election.

Disenfranchisement in Arizona, N.C. primaries

As we’ve seen in the Arizona and North Carolina primaries, the Shelby decision has ushered in a renaissance of voter disenfranchisement and Congress must step in to stop it before the general election.

The disenfranchisement taking place in these states since freed from Section 5 oversight is a canary in the coal mine, a sign of things to come, as we approach the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act.

In Maricopa County, Arizona – which is 40 percent people of color, a much greater percentage than the rest of the state — some voters waited more than five hours to cast their ballots after polling places were reduced from 200 to 60.

Under North Carolina’s restrictive and discriminatory voter laws that were rushed through immediately after the VRA was gutted, many low-income, minority, student, and elderly voters lost the right to have their voice heard in our democracy.

In a country that so prides itself on being a beacon of democracy to the world, that is a national disgrace. Congress has a responsibility to hold hearings on this voting discrimination and on the two bipartisan VRA restoration bills languishing from inaction.

For the sake of the integrity of the upcoming general election, we urge Congress to act now.

Wade Henderson is president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Editor's note: Arizona and North Carolina previously were covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act due to long histories of voting discrimination against Latinos, Native Americans and African Americans and both have restricted access to the vote since the Supreme Court gutted the VRA in 2013. 

 

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