During the signing ceremony, Johnson said:
This act flows from a clear and simple wrong. Its only purpose is to right that wrong. Millions of Americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. This law will ensure them the right to vote. The wrong is one which no American, in his heart, can justify. The right is one which no American, true to our principles, can deny.
There were those who said this is an old injustice, and there is no need to hurry. But 95 years have passed since the 15th amendment gave all Negroes the right to vote.
This law covers many pages. But the heart of the act is plain. Wherever, by clear and objective standards, States and counties are using regulations, or laws, or tests to deny the right to vote, then they will be struck down. If it is dear that State officials still intend to discriminate, then Federal examiners will be sent in to register all eligible voters. When the prospect of discrimination is gone, the examiners will be immediately withdrawn.
Fast forward to today. Republican governors are signing bills that would reinstate barriers to the right to vote. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that since 2008, photo ID laws have been enacted in Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that places restrictions on third-party voter registration groups like the League of Women Voters. The new election law shortens the early voting period. The Sun Sentinel reported:
In 2008, more than half of the African-American voters in Florida who participated in the historic election of President Barack Obama did it by voting early.
In the state’s largest counties, with the highest number of black voters, many voters went to the early voting sites on the Sunday before Election Day.
Now, under a new law — passed by a Republican Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott last month — that early voting period has been cut from 14 days to eight days. And the Sunday voting, before Election Day, has been eliminated.
A coalition of civil rights organizations has seen enough. The groups are holding a press conference today at 9:30am the National Press Club to address voter suppression efforts:
More and more states across the nation are enacting burdensome voter ID bills using general unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and ignoring the disparate impact upon voters who have traditionally been disadvantaged, including minorities, the elderly, youth, low-income Americans and those with disabilities. Additionally, faulty citizenship matching, elimination of voting locations and voter intimidation efforts all place unjust impediments to the fundamental right to vote. National civil rights organizations are joining together to bring attention to the potential impact of such laws and suppression efforts and discuss efforts to fight back and educate voters.
The participants will include:
- Rev Jesse L. Jackson Sr., Rainbow PUSH Coalition
- Barbara R. Arnwine and Tanya Clay House, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
- Wade Henderson, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
- Kim Keenan, NAACP
- Chanelle Hardy, National Urban League
- Victor Sanchez, United States Student Association
- Deven Anderson, Black Youth Vote!
For more info, contact Stacie Royster.