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First Republican Primary Debate Scheduled for the Same Day as the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

Bend the Arc Jewish Action Launches Petition Calling on Fox News to Grill GOP Candidates on Voting Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C—Ahead of the first Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, the advocacy group Bend the Arc Jewish Action launched a petition today calling on Fox News, the host of the debate, to ask the candidates one question when they take the stage: “What will you do to restore the Voting Rights Act, which was first signed into law 50 years ago today?”

Signed into law on August 6, 1965, the Voting Rights Act was the most successful civil rights statute ever enacted by Congress, until the Supreme Court gutted the legislation in 2013, sparking the passage of new restrictive voting laws in states across the country. Many of the candidates who will take the stage have led these state efforts to restrict the right to vote, from Scott Walker’s Voter ID law in Wisconsin to Jeb Bush’s purge of the voting rolls in Florida. Republicans in Congress have stymied efforts to restore the law, despite the Supreme Court’s explicit call for the legislative body to act.

“The Republican Party has a troubling track record on voting rights,” said Hadar Susskind, Director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action “With the party’s first presidential debate falling on the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and restrictive voting laws predicted to disenfranchise countless Americans in 2016, the American people deserve a chance to hear the specific plans these candidates have for protecting our right to vote. And Fox News has a responsibility to push for those answers. Until recently, strong protections for voting rights have been an uncontroversial, bipartisan affair. The Republican candidates for President have an opportunity to put their party back on the right track, demonstrate true leadership, and honor the legacy of the civil rights movement by committing to a strong renewal of the Voting Rights Act. Anything less will be an admission – by both the candidates and Fox – that they have no interest in protecting the voting rights of all citizens and would prefer that our President is only elected by some of the people.”   

Leading up to the August 6 debate, Bend the Arc and partner organizations will circulate the petition to thousands of people across the country for signatures and deliver the petition to Fox News headquarters.

Over the past two years, Bend the Arc has galvanized Jewish participation in the national, multi-racial, interfaith and intergenerational coalition to protect voting rights and promote civic engagement. Last month, the organization coordinated vigils in 16 cities to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. Bend the Arc has also organized Jewish voters to deliver petitions to congressional offices and organized calls with activists from across the country, calling for passage of the Voting Rights Amendment Act. Last year, Bend the Arc, in partnership with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, held a National Day of Action on voting rights, culminating in a candlelight vigil on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, to commemorate the deaths of Andrew Goodman, Mickey Schwerner and James Chaney, three young activists who were murdered over 50 years ago for working to register black voters in Mississippi.
Bend the Arc Jewish Action is a national organization inspired by Jewish values and the steadfast belief that Jewish Americans, regardless of religious or institutional affiliations, are compelled to create justice and opportunity for Americans.