For Immediate Release
Contact: David Card
WASHINGTON, DC – The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) commends Representative Terri Sewell (D-AL) for her championship and introduction of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R.14) and urges Congress to quickly enact this crucial piece of legislation. This critical bill will restore voting rights in America, as well as modernize protections once guaranteed by the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965.
“We cannot emphasize enough the importance of passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, not only for people with disabilities but for all minority groups across the nation,” said NDRN Executive Director Marlene Sallo. “The success of measures that suppress the vote of marginalized people has undermined our rights as citizens of the United States. NDRN stands firmly against discriminatory voting practices and urges Congress to restore the protections of federal preclearance in the name of our democracy.”
Legislative efforts proposed by states across the country, which are designed to suppress the vote of people with disabilities, people of color, young voters, and other minority groups have continued to skyrocket following a historic increase in voter turnout during the 2020 elections. The precedent behind enacting such laws on the state level stems from the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, in which the United States Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the VRA. Adding insult to injury, the Court further weakened the law in its decision in Brnovich v. DNC, making it more difficult to challenge discriminatory voting laws under Section 2 in July of 2021.
Prior to 2013, jurisdictions that were subject to pre-clearance under Section 5 of the VRA, and jurisdictions with known discriminatory practices were required to seek approval before enacting voting changes. In the Shelby County ruling, the Supreme Court struck down the formula used to determine what jurisdictions are subject to federal pre-clearance. Immediately, jurisdictions with known discriminatory practices were free to make fundamental alterations to their elections without the crucial civil rights protections offered by federal preclearance. Following the enactment of strict voter identification laws, voter purges, and polling place closures, voters have experienced an increase in being denied their fundamental right to have their voices heard on Election Day.
For the past several years, Congress has introduced legislation that would restore the pre-clearance provision of the VRA, including the Voting Rights Advancement Act, recently renamed as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Congress must act to protect and restore voting rights in America, as voters need the protections of federal preclearance now more than ever. NDRN urges the House to take swift action and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.