U.S. House of Representatives

During the January 2017 confirmation hearing for U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Georgia Congressman John Lewis and New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker testified against the senator from Alabama becoming the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.

The two esteemed legislators expressed their concerns that Sessions would lead a Justice Department that would be hostile to minority voting rights, and that welcomed state-sponsored voter suppression, such as the law passed by the Texas legislature requiring registered voters to present state-approved voter identification before they could cast their ballots.

Nearly two years later, the opposition of my colleagues and that of members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other members of the Democratic Party seems prescient. The Justice Department, led by Attorney General Sessions, stands as an impediment to the voting and civil rights of racial minorities, and to those of other minority groups.

With the crucial November midterm elections approaching, minority voters cannot expect any help from the Justice Department. That is why it is so important that voters come out in large numbers, and that those who are not registered to vote do so immediately.

National Voter Registration Day is Sept. 25, and the entire month of September is being acknowledged as National Voter Registration Month, during which each of us must encourage everyone we know to register and vote in the fall.

The Democratic vote in Texas and throughout the nation must be decisive, wrestling control from the Republican-controlled Congress and sending a strong message to the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Among other things, a Congress controlled by Democrats will address voter suppression and attempt to restore the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was severely damaged by the United States Supreme Court when a majority of its justices decided in June 2013 to eliminate the preclearance provision from the legislation, precluding federal oversight of voting rights plans by state legislators.

If you have not registered or if you have changed your address or your name since the last time you voted you should visit the website of the National Association of the Secretaries of State, http://www.can|vote.org, to obtain correct voting instructions. You do not want to go the polls on Election Day and be confronted with questions about your ability to cast a ballot, or be told that you cannot vote.

We must always remember that voting is a fundamental right. There are heroes in the history of this country that gave their lives in the struggle to secure voting rights for all people. We honor them and the legacy that they left us by voting.

U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson is the ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and the highest-ranking Texan on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. She represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas.

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