Louisville NAACP Plans Voter Drive, Legislative Push In Honor of Voting Rights Act
It has been 50 years since Congress approved the Voting Rights Act.
In celebration of that anniversary, Louisville’s NAACP branch on Thursday announced plans to push for new federal voting rights legislation and launch a voter drive ahead of this year’s statewide election.
Louisville NAACP president Raoul Cunningham lamented a 2013 Supreme Court decision striking down a key portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
“When the Voting Rights Act was enacted, we thought we had achieved it,” Cunningham recalled during a small gathering in the group’s headquarters in West Louisville. “And yet, we find ourselves 50 years later still fighting that same battle over voting rights.”
Cunningham said his organization is advocating for legislation currently stalled in Congress that would rectify the loss of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which required states with a history of voter discrimination to obtain Justice Department approval for any changes that could affect voting practices. The Supreme Court tossed that provision from the law in its 2013 decision.
Cunningham says the group plans to meet with Kentucky’s U.S. Senators — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has the power to call a vote on the bill.
“If they don’t do it, it should not be because we did not ask,” said Democratic State Rep. Darryl Owens. “So, we need to make contact with our senators, ask them to cosponsor this legislation and they will vote for it.”
Cunningham also noted that no member of the Kentucky delegation voted against the five reauthorizations of the original Voting Rights Act in the decades since its passage.
The local NAACP's planned voter registration drive ahead of this year’s election would be in partnership with local groups such as the Masons, Shriners, Elks and local churches.