Sanders Marks Voting Rights Act Anniversary, Introduces Legislation to Increase Voter Turnout

Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke Thursday on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act at a rally hosted by leading civil rights organizations.

With the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial as a backdrop, Sanders called for restoring Voting Rights Act protections stripped away by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling. The senator also announced the introduction of legislation to ease registration and encourage voting.

The court ruling that gutted the enforcement provision in the voting rights law “unleashed a torrent of state legislation which is disenfranchising voters all over the country,” Sanders said at the event hosted by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Drum Major Institute.

He branded as “political cowards” state lawmakers who exploited the court ruling to enact laws designed to suppress voter participation. “If we believe in a vibrant democracy, we want to have the highest voter turnout in the world.”

One of the two bills Sanders formally introduced yesterday would require states to automatically register individuals to vote if they are eligible. The legislation is supported by the Brennan Center for Justice, D?mos, Common Cause, the Communications Workers of America and other organizations.

The other bill would establish Election Day as a national holiday. “We should be doing everything possible to make it easier for people to participate in the political process. Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote. While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a vibrant democracy.”

In addition to the two bills filed yesterday, Sanders said he will introduce legislation this fall calling for the public funding of elections. He also is a co-sponsor of a constitutional amendment to overturn a disastrous 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United which opened the floodgates to unlimited super PAC spending.

To read the REGISTER Act, click here.

To read the Democracy Day Act of 2015, click here.