WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.), along with nearly 50 of their senate colleagues, reintroduced legislation Tuesday to restore the landmark Voting Rights Act (VRA) and stop the spreading scourge of voter suppression. The legislation – the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act – is named for an icon of the Civil Rights movement, the late Congressman John Lewis, and reflects an update to legislation introduced in the last Congress.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s damaging Shelby County decision in 2013 – which crippled the federal government’s ability under the 1965 Voting Rights Act to prevent discriminatory changes to voting laws and procedures – states across the country have unleashed a torrent of voter suppression schemes that have systematically disenfranchised tens of thousands of American voters. The Supreme Court’s more recent Brnovich decision earlier this year delivered yet another body blow to the Voting Rights Act, by making it significantly harder for plaintiffs to win lawsuits under the landmark law against discriminatory voting laws or procedures.
“Since the disastrous 2013 decision of Shelby v. Holder, millions of Americans have been denied access to the ballot box. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is a chance for us to make clear yet again that we cannot stand by as voter suppression and the disenfranchisement of communities of color infringe upon the rights of our citizens,” said Senator Cardin. “The time to restore voting rights is long overdue and this landmark legislation would research, identify and rid our elections of harmful, racist and discriminatory tactics specifically designed to disenfranchise rightful voters.”
“My friend John Lewis always described the right to vote as precious, sacred, and the strongest non-violent tool in our democratic society. Republican state legislatures across the country have attacked this sacred right and put up barriers to voting that disproportionately disenfranchise people of color. I’m proud to join my colleagues in reintroducing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This is an important step towards securing the right to vote and defending Americans’ access to the ballot box, and we must pass it,” said Senator Van Hollen.
Joining Cardin and Van Hollen are Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), as well as Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is endorsed by the following leading civil rights organizations: Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), the Brennan Center for Justice, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
The full text of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act can be found here.
A section-by-section analysis of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act can be found here.
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