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Secretary Simon: ‘People Power Can Re-Build the Voting Rights Act’

August 6, 2015

"On the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, it’s important to not only celebrate this great achievement, but to also educate Minnesotans on the barriers to voting that still exist for far too many, and to activate communities to work to eliminate those barriers."

SAINT PAUL — Today, on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon released the following statement encouraging Minnesotans to "stay restless until the right to vote is real for every eligible voter."

"On the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, it’s important to not only celebrate this great achievement, but to also educate Minnesotans on the barriers to voting that still exist for far too many, and to activate communities to work to eliminate those barriers," said Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon. "We’ve seen active efforts nationally to water down this landmark piece of legislation, to weaken its enforcement, and to make it easier for states to pass laws that restrict voting. People power built the Voting Rights Act and people power can re-build the Voting Rights Act. We must stay restless until the right to vote is real for every eligible voter."

In honor of the 50th anniversary, Secretary Simon and his Council to Celebrate the Voting Rights Act will host an event today in North Minneapolis to highlight the current struggle to expand voter rights and reduce barriers for all eligible Minnesotans.

The event, which will be kicked off by Congressman Keith Ellison, will include a panel discussion on voting rights, powerful performances by artists on today’s struggles to reduce barriers and expand access to voting, reflections from the audience interpreted through improvisational theater from The Theater of Public Policy, and a call to action to vote and to be engaged in community efforts.

Who: Secretary of State Steve Simon, Congressman Keith Ellison
What: Stay Restless: A Community Gathering on the Voting Rights Act 50 Years Later
When: TODAY, Thursday, August 6, 5:30PM
Where: Harrison Neighborhood Association, 503 Irving Avenue North, Minneapolis

** If you are a member of the media and are planning to attend, please RSVP to ryan.furlong@state.mn.us.

The panel discussion on voting rights will include Secretary Simon as the moderator, and panelists Mai Thor, a disability advocate; Sarah Walker, a voter rights restoration advocate; Natasha Moore, a student at the University of Minnesota; and Stephanie Cobenais, a Band Member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians.

The performances, which will be emceed by noted community activist and local performer Javier Morillo, will highlight the importance of voting and the struggles faced by communities of color and people with disabilities.

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The Minnesota Secretary of State’s Council to Celebrate the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is dedicated to celebrating the historic anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act; educating Minnesotans about the importance of voting today; and activating voters moving forward.

The Council includes Secretary Simon, honorary co-chairs Vice President Walter Mondale and civil rights pioneer Dr. Josie Johnson, and nearly 50 Minnesota-based nonprofit, faith, business, and other community leaders. In July, August and September, the Council will be engaging communities across Minnesota in a series of events, starting at the July 30 ceremony and ending around National Voter Registration Day (September 22).

Last week, Secretary Simon, the Council, and over 300 elected officials, community leaders, and members of the public honored five Minnesotans who helped make the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a reality.


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Contact: Ryan Furlong, 651-297-8919, ryan.furlong@state.mn.us

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