Secretary of State Alex Padilla on the 50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Voting Rights Act
August 5, 2015
Dear California Democrats,
When African Americans in the South demanded the right to vote they initiated a movement that was unstoppable. Today, the Voting Rights Act is one of our nation's most important achievements. In the past 50 years, African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, seniors, those with disabilities, and so many more have benefited.
In 1965, John Lewis embodied the hopes of millions of Americans when he led marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, only to be met with tear gas and truncheons on the other side. "We kept believing that the truth we stood for would have the final say," he said this year on the 50th anniversary of that historic march.
John Lewis was right.
Congress passed and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965, making tomorrow the 50th anniversary.
Will you join me in signing California Democrats' VRA50 pledge to protect voting rights for the next 50 years?
I see that same hope when I speak at swearing-in ceremonies for new U.S. citizens. The look of pride on their faces as they recite the pledge, the tears in their eyes as they raise their right hands. Just like my parents did, immigrants come to the United States searching for a better life and future, and to experience and have a voice in our democracy.
Today the Voting Rights Act is under attack like never before. Since the U.S. Supreme Court weakened key provisions of the law in 2013, 15 states have passed laws to restrict voting opportunities. Many of those losing their votes have been the very people the Voting Rights Act intended to help.
Our democracy and our voting rights shouldn't be a partisan issue, but they have become one.
I was proud to have introduced legislation as a state senator requiring that Covered California provide voter registration opportunities to those seeking health care under the Affordable Care Act. As Secretary of State, I have also seen how our state's new online voter registration system is helping Californians register with ease.
Still, there are more than 6 million citizens in our state who are not yet registered to vote and millions more who are registered but not voting.
Will you sign California Democrats' VRA50 pledge to increase voter participation and strengthen our democracy?
As we celebrate the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, I pledge to continue to do everything in my power to register millions more voters and hold open the doors of our democracy. I want every citizen to vote and every vote to be counted.
Every one of us has a responsibility to defend voting rights. We need your help.
Visit my website at www.alex-padilla.com/boost-the-vote to send me your ideas for improving voter participation and access.
"The Voting Rights Act was one of the crowning achievements of our democracy," President Obama said. And it is our responsibility to honor the sacrifices of so many who risked so much by protecting the law's promise.
Thank you for your support,
Secretary of State