Last week, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined 47 senators in introducing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bipartisan bill to restore the landmark Voting Rights Act, end the scourge of minority voter suppression, and help preserve the legacy of John Lewis – one of America’s greatest civil rights heroes who fought tirelessly to protect the right to vote for every American.
In 2013, the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision gutted critical voter protections within the Voting Rights Act, crippling the federal government’s ability to prevent discriminatory changes to state voting laws and procedures. In the wake of Shelby County, states across the country unleashed a torrent of voter suppression schemes that have systematically disenfranchised minority voters. These patently discriminatory efforts to restrict access to the ballot box undermine the progress and equality that John Lewis fought hard over the decades to achieve, from his time as a civil rights movement leader to his tenure in Congress. And to fight voter suppression, it’s salient to understand that voter suppression no longer announces itself in the form of a literacy test or poll tax, but may feel more like user error in instances of voter roll purges. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore and modernize the Voting Rights Act, as well as provide the federal government with other critical tools to combat what has become a full-fledged assault on Americans’ right to vote.
“Voting is one of the most fundamental rights we have as Americans. John Lewis dedicated his life to fighting for voting rights and equal rights for all Americans, to bring our nation closer to the promise of our founding. Yet these rights are continually chipped away, with too many states suppressing minority, young and poor voters’ access to the ballot box,” Udall said. “We must honor John Lewis’ legacy by passing this voting rights legislation to ensure that the American government answers to the people it represents. These changes are long overdue, and now is the time to pass badly-needed reforms to restore and protect every American’s right to vote.”
“In his life, John Lewis put everything on the line to fight for the right of all Americans to cast their ballots safely and without fear of discrimination,” Heinrich said. “We have a moral obligation to restore the powers of the landmark Voting Rights Act that he and so many others marched and put their lives on the line to pass. There is no better way to honor Congressman Lewis’s legacy than passing this legislation that would address the chipping away of voter protections in recent years and make it easier, safer, and equally accessible for all Americans to participate in our democratic process.”
Joining Udall and Heinrich, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is cosponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Angus King (I-Maine), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
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