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August 28, 2013
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Guest column: Congress must act quickly to restore the voting rights acts

On Aug. 26, 2013, the League of Women Voters Umpqua Valley recognized the 93rd anniversary of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote in this country.

Today, we mark the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, in which citizens of this country turned out to show support for equality of opportunity, including the right to vote.

As Oregonians will be asked to vote on a variety of candidates and issues that have the potential to improve the quality of life for citizens, it is important for all eligible citizens to participate in the vote, especially younger citizens.

Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that gutted many key components of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The decision in the case of Shelby County, Alabama, v. Holder erased fundamental protections against racial discrimination in voting that have been effective for more than 40 years.

It opened the floodgates for attacks on voters. Only strong action from Congress can fix the Court’s mistake.

The Voting Rights Act remains an essential protection against the potential discrimination that prevents some citizens from voting.

Requiring a certain type of personal ID, reducing the number of voting places and restricting the hours of voting all impact voters in many states.

Recently some citizens have had to stand for hours in line before being allowed to vote, or turned away if they do not have state-issued ID. All citizens should have fair and equal access to the ballot.

Now is the time for Congress to repair the Voting Rights Act before any more damage is done.

Yes, we in Oregon can vote by mail, which makes voting almost too easy. Should one return the ballot by mail or drop it off before the deadline?

The League provides voter information each election cycle. Our members produce a nonpartisan voters guide and we also provide online access through Vote411, which shows each voter a sample ballot to review and to read about each candidate and each ballot measure before casting a mail-in ballot.

The League is proud to inform and educate voters, and to assist citizens to become registered to vote.

Sally McKain of Roseburg is president of the League of Women Voters Umpqua Valley. She can be reached at sallymckain@charter.net.

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The News-Review Updated Aug 28, 2013 11:04AM Published Sep 13, 2013 12:23PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.