WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) strongly supports the Voting Rights Amendment Act (S.1945) and urges quick Senate passage of the legislation.
The association thanks the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and the rest of the Committee for holding hearings on the legislation this week.
This bicameral, bipartisan legislation offers a measured and commonsense approach in response to the Supreme Court’s June 25, 2013, decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that for decades had ensured protection for voters against discrimination.
NASW has a long history of being in the forefront of social justice, especially when it comes to voters rights. Two of the leaders in the fight to pass the Voters Rights Act of 1965, past NASW President Whitney M. Young, Jr. and Dorothy I. Height, were social workers.
Discrimination in voting is real and it is not a thing of the past—it is still happening and we need tools to redress such injustices. Since the Shelby decision, a number of states and localities have introduced and pushed forward potentially discriminatory changes to their voting procedures, such as changing district boundaries to disadvantage some voters and moving polling locations in areas with high concentrations of minority voters. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 22 states have passed voting restrictions since 2010.
NASW has always taken the position that voting discrimination can pose an existential threat to our democracy. Any violation of the right to vote is troubling and requires a strong, bipartisan response from Congress. The Voting Rights Amendment Act is a modern, flexible, national approach to protecting voters that embodies the spirit and letter of the Court’s decision.
We are at a key juncture of a long fight to ensure that no voter suffers discrimination at the ballot box. Every day that Congress fails to act, the fundamental right to vote is in danger. With national elections looming as early as November 2014, there are Americans who will lose their right to vote solely because of their race or English language proficiency. This cannot be tolerated. Failure to advance this legislation gives a free pass to voting discrimination.
The National Association of Social Workers Foundation (NASWF), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers with 130,000 members. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.