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Birmingham City Councilors Partners with Congresswoman Terri Sewell to Address Voting Inequalities at Restore the Vote Congressional Forum

Dozens of members from the United States Congress along with statewide and local elected officials landed in Birmingham over the weekend to organize efforts and address the current state of voting rights in America. Restore the Vote, a national legislative effort to mobilize support for the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, drew leaders and hundreds of members of the community to incite support for its passage.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell took the charge and began solution based discussions on the Voting Rights Advancement Act that introduces a modern-day formula mandating states and municipalities with a recent history of voter discrimination to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Justice before making any changes to their electoral laws.

Councilor Sheila Tyson was overjoyed by the efforts of Congresswoman Sewell and her distinguished colleagues who all traveled from near and far to address voting inequalities and its affect on the State of Alabama.

“Voting rights are still being attacked. People are being moved around and ultimately out of the voting process, especially in poor communities,” Councilor Tyson said. “We’ve had a large percentage of people who attempted to vote just this past Tuesday but could not vote because of ID laws that were put in place. We have to remain consistent and push for effective legislation to ensure that these outlandish measures that deny voter’s their rights and opportunities doesn’t continue.”

According to Congresswoman Sewell, the Voting Rights Advancement Act will restore Section 4(b) of the VRA, which the Supreme Court invalidated in Shelby County v. Holder. The Supreme Court did not strike down the federal preclearance provisions of Section 5 of the VRA, but without Section 4(b) no jurisdiction is entitled to federal protection unless Congress enacts a new coverage formula.

“The objective of this bill is to reaffirm the commitment to voter equality and create more pathways to voter access,” Congresswoman Sewell said. “The legislative strategy outlines the updated coverage that ensures that states like Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas are required to obtain preclearance for changes to voting practices and procedures. The bill also includes critical protections for Native Americans, naturalized citizens and disabled voters.”

With voting occurring on Tuesdays, each member of Congress is encouraged to wear a restore the vote ribbon pin each Tuesday that Congress is in session and speak on the House floor about voting rights.

This article is a contribution from Chiara Perry (chiara.perry@birminghamal.gov) in the Birmingham City Council Public Information Office. For more information please contact 205.254.2294