By Andrew Austin, Executive Director
Yesterday’s disturbing and perverse Supreme Court decision to overturn major voter protection provisions of the Voting Rights Act will directly hurt transit riders across the country, especially in America’s South. Already since the decision, the Texas Attorney general hasreinstated their discriminatory voter ID law, which directly hurts and dis-empowers low income transit riders who often times not have driver’s licenses or bank accounts.
Americans for Transit believes our governments, at all levels, should encourage voter participation and enfranchise and empower, not actively disenfranchise and dis-empower, low income, people of color, and transit riders across the country. I wish I could count on state and local governments to encourage voter participation, but Texas has already proven that without federal voter protections they will often do the exact opposite of just that.
As Emma Lazarus wrote in 1883:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.
At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves, do we want to live in a country and community that accepts and empowers all of our citizens, or one that creates a permanent underclass in American Society? I think we know how lady liberty would answer this simple question.
Here is the full release by ATU and A4T in response to yesterday’s Supreme Court decision:
Supreme Court voting rights ruling opens door to discrimination against minorities, transit riders
Voting rights of millions left unprotected
Washington, DC – The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and Americans for Transit (A4T) released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court decision to strike down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act:
“Today’s Supreme Court Voting Rights Act decision turns the clock back to the Jim Crow-era when state laws prevented people of color from voting – creating a permanent underclass in American society.
“The judgment striking the 1960s-era formula mandating federal preclearance of election laws in states with a history of discrimination, will lead to the voter suppression of millions who cannot easily meet new voter ID law requirements. It will directly hurt transit riders, who are vulnerable to disenfranchisement efforts.
“The ruling, made during this time of Congressional deadlock, virtually legalizes voter suppression in those states, and encourages it in others. These laws, which require that particular picture IDs be provided in order to vote, are a real impediment to voting for those who don’t possess driver’s licenses, and who stand to lose a day’s wages in the attempt to acquire an acceptable alternative.
“The ruling will prove most onerous to the poor, seniors, persons with disabilities, and those who simply choose not to drive and rely on public transportation.
“ATU and A4T will redouble our efforts to engage and enfranchise voters and transit riders across the South and the country to fight to protect their right to vote.”
See Color of Change’s campaign on this issue for more info.