President Barack Obama is marking the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act with an appeal to restore it.
Thursday, he called upon Congress to update the law and encouraged citizens to register to vote.
“There are people of goodwill on both sides of the aisle who are willing to do it, but it keeps slipping as a priority,” Obama said. “This has to be a priority. If this isn’t working, nothing’s working.”
The Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the act two years ago, ruling that jurisdictions with a history of discrimination are no longer required to have voting changes preapproved by the Justice Department.
Section 5, known as the “preclearance” provision, applied to nine states and parts of seven others historically known to use voter ID laws to disenfranchise minorities, lower income earners, and young people, who often don’t have the identification required by these laws.
With a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that this provision in the Voting Rights Act was outdated.
Obama highlighted battles at the state and local level, where voting rights groups are vehemently challenging identification laws. Wednesday, a federal appeals court ruled that a Texas law is discriminatory and violates the act.
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