The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act was recently introduced in the Senate after it passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 219-212 in August. The introduction of the bill is a chance to garner the votes needed to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was invalidated in the 2013 Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision.
If passed by the Senate, the “law will provide the Justice Department with renewed authority to block discriminatory voting changes and protect the rights of Black and Brown voters in the United States,” according to Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“All rights in our democracy flow from the right to vote, which is tied to the promise of justice, freedom, and equality for all,” Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said. “After the Supreme Court gutted the preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the promises of democracy for communities of color, the elderly, and the young began to slip away. But with the introduction of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, protecting the right to vote is front and center.”
The VRAA will “prevent the implementation of discriminatory voting practices in an effort to protect and ensure the rights of all voters,” according to the Sierra Club. And under the Freedom to Vote Act the it includes national standards to protect the right to vote, bans partisan redistricting, expands campaign finance reforms, automatic voter registration, and prevents voter intimidation.
“The bill is designed to ensure that communities of color secure their voice in our democracy and achieve equal representation in our government.,” Hewitt said. “We look forward to working with Congress to ensure that this becomes truly transformative legislation that will keep our nation committed to realizing its ideal of a fully inclusive democracy for years to come.”