As we noted late last week, H.R. 3899/S. 1945, the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014, would amend the Voting Rights Act so that our government can still keep states and municipalities from placing undue burdens on good folks' right to vote -- a duty circumscribed by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder last year. The Voting Rights Amendment Act answers the Court's objection to Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (long story short, that it used outdated criteria to deny states the right to change their own laws) by setting new criteria that could apply to any state, and not just the nine Southern states originally covered under Section 4. Ari Berman summarizes the bill's changes here; the main change is that states and municipalities which have broken federal election law five times in the past 15 years would be covered under Section 4, and the bill also makes legal challenges under Section 3 easier. Both Common Cause and People for the American Way help you support the Voting Rights Amendment Act.
Meanwhile, President Obama gave yet another well-received speech last Friday, this one about proposed changes to the NSA's dragnet surveillance program, and his proposals contain some concessions to the American people, which I suppose is welcome after eight years of Mr. Bush claiming unconstitutional Executive surveillance powers and Mr. Obama expanding them. But now is not the time to accept half-measures -- Mr. Obama did not say, at any point, that he'd end the NSA practice of collecting the phone metadata of all citizens, whether they're suspected of a crime or not. And H.R. 3361/S. 1599, the USA FREEDOM Act, would actually prohibit the NSA from collecting phone data from Americans except under certain circumstances (like, you know, getting a warrant), and would roll back National Security Letter authority to its pre-PATRIOT Act state, among other absolutely necessary checks on Executive power. Thus the ACLU helps you tell your Reps and Senators to end the NSA's data-vacuuming program.