Mayor Kasim Reed met with President Barack Obama and senior Cabinet members including Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez Monday in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, to discuss strengthening the Voting Rights Act and safeguarding every eligible American’s right to vote, according to a spokesperson from Reed’s office.
The Obama administration announced last week that it will aggressively fight the Supreme Court’s recent Shelby County v. Holder ruling, which strikes down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, in a series of legal cases across the nation. Attorney General Holder said the Justice Department will bring lawsuits to either prevent states from implementing laws, including requirements to present certain forms of identification to vote, or require states to get approval before they can change their election laws. The first challenge will be in Texas.
“As Mayor of Atlanta, a city which played an essential role in the Civil Rights Movement, I believe today’s conversation and the actions of the Obama Administration to continue to protect voting rights are vital to the health of our democracy,” Reed said. “The Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder was stunningly disappointing and opened the door for some lawmakers to begin efforts to disenfranchise voters. Recent actions in Texas and North Carolina to erect barriers to voting shows exactly why the United States Congress has enacted and repeatedly reauthorized the Voting Rights Act since 1965 by wide bipartisan majorities. I support the efforts of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to ensure that the vote of every American is counted regardless of race or ethnicity.”
Shortly after the Supreme Court decision, Texas lawmakers began efforts to implement a voter identification law passed in 2011. And a three-judge panel has been deliberating over a controversial legislative and congressional redistricting map for two years. Last week, lawmakers in North Carolina passed a sweeping voter ID law that would require voters to show government-issued ID cards.
It also would shorten early voting by a week, eliminate same-day voter registration during early voting, allow any registered voter to challenge another voter’s eligibility and eliminate pre-registration initiatives for high school students. The bill also would end straight-ticket voting and would also prohibit counties from extending voting hours on election day in response to long lines.