Obama pushes to expand Voting Rights Act in letter

Posted at 9:53 AM, Aug 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-12 09:53:23-04

Writing he was “inspired” by a recent New York Times Magazine article detailing continued struggle for ballot access, President Barack Obama urged lawmakers Wednesday to re-establish elements of the Voting Rights Act.

“Congress must restore the Voting Rights Act. Our state leaders and legislatures must make it easier — not harder — for more Americans to have their voices heard,” he wrote to the magazine in a letter to the editor. “Above all, we must exercise our right as citizens to vote, for the truth is that too often we disenfranchise ourselves.”

In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a key enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act, and Congress has not yet been able to muster support for a replacement section. The issue is expected to play a major role in the upcoming presidential election.

Obama’s letter comes after the White House marked the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act last week. Obama stressed that obstacles to voting still persist for communities of color, but argued that political apathy was just as problematic.

“Far more people disenfranchise themselves than any law does, by not participating, by not getting involved,” he said on Thursday.

In his letter, Obama hailed the men and women profiled in The New York Times Magazine article as “unsung American heroes” who pushed the battle for voting rights forward.

“Their efforts made our country a better place,” he wrote. “It is now up to us to continue those efforts.”