Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court struck down a provision of the Voting Rights Act that set the preclearance formula used to determine which states and jurisdictions must receive federal approval before changing their voting laws. Democrats cried foul, saying the decision increases potential discrimination through redistricting in the nine states that had to comply.
“Now, more than ever, it is critical that Congress acts quickly to update and pass new legislation that restores provisions of the Voting Rights Act before these discriminatory voting changes can have an impact on the 2014 elections,” the letter stated. “We ask that you work with us and our colleagues to bring a legislative solution to the floor of the Congress before the end of the year.”
Gillibrand also urged colleagues to pass her bill, the Voter Empowerment Act, which aims to modernize voter registration, ensure equal access to voting and prohibit deceptive practices and voter fraud.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a former civil rights leader, is co-sponsoring Gillibrand's bill. Their bill would authorize online voter registration, require federally funded universities to encourage voter registration on campus and establish a national voter hotline to report polling station violations and problems, among other things.