Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement on the introduction of the Voter Empowerment Act, sponsored by Congressman John Lewis, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, Congressman John Conyers, and Congressman Robert Brady. This legislation was reintroduced on the 49th anniversary of the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, which ended the discriminatory poll tax in federal elections:
“Nearly half-a-century ago, our country discarded the discrimination of the poll tax onto the ash heap of history. Yet today, too many Americans are still denied their basic rights to participate in our elections. That’s why the Voter Empowerment Act is critical to the health of our democracy: extending access to the polls; modernizing our registration system; and protecting voters from deceptive practices and intimidation.
“By enacting this legislation, Congress can take a firm stand against any efforts to suppress the vote and keep our country on the path toward justice and civil rights for every voter. But we must do more. To strengthen our democracy, we must build on this effort through clean campaigns and fair elections. We must act to shine a bright light on the unlimited, secret special interest money flooding our campaigns. We must ensure the power in our democracy rests with the votes of the people, not the pocketbooks of the privileged few.
“The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy – and it must be protected and preserved. Congress must work to ensure that every voter can cast a ballot and every vote is counted as cast. We started with the 24th Amendment 49 years ago; we can continue with passage of the Voter Empowerment Act this year. We can secure the character of our country with a renew commitment to fairness and equality in our elections.”