Washington—Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten on the Voting Rights Act case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
"There is nothing more sacred in our democracy than the right of every eligible American to cast a ballot and elect our leaders. This is a right won through the blood, sweat and tears of the brave women and men who came before us—many of whom laid down their lives in pursuit of democracy and full equal voting rights for every American.
"The Voting Rights Act enshrines the right to free and fair elections in our country. The sad truth is that in too many places we've seen increased efforts by powerful interests and state legislatures to deny Americans their voting rights. These efforts to disenfranchise Americans—through restrictive voter ID laws, redistricting to enable certain outcomes, spreading misinformation about polling dates and locations, and limiting voting hours and opportunities—disproportionately impact African-American, Latino, immigrant, student, senior and low-income voters. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which is being challenged in this court case, plays a vital role in protecting these voters, and all voters, from real attempts to disenfranchise them. This is especially true in jurisdictions that have an egregious history of racial discrimination.
"I'm a former civics teacher. Like most teachers, I taught my students that the right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, that it wasn't simply handed to us and it's not something that we can take for granted. An informed and active citizenry is the way we move our nation forward. Voting is not simply a right, it is a responsibility. It is our duty to ensure that we live up to these ideals and values as a nation and as a democracy. The Supreme Court must uphold this fundamental right to free and full participation in our democracy by preserving the integrity of the Voting Rights Act."