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Schatz, Senators Introduce The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

Bill Honors Legacy Of Civil Rights Icon Congressman John Lewis, Protects Access To The Ballot Box, Fully Restores Protections In Voting Rights Act of 1965

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and 47 colleagues introduced the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bipartisan bill to restore the landmark Voting Rights Act. Named after one of America’s greatest civil rights heroes, the bill would ensure that every American can exercise their right to vote by prohibiting common voter suppression tactics such as voter purges, strict ID requirements, and poll closures.

“Congressman John Lewis was a courageous leader for racial justice and an American hero. Nowhere was his courage more clear than in his fight to secure the right to vote. To honor his legacy and life's work, we must pass this legislation to restore key voting protections and ensure all Americans can access the ballot box,” said Senator Schatz.

The legislation would restore key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. Specifically, it would require that any state with a history of voting discrimination in the past 25 years seek federal approval before making changes to voting procedures. It would also mandate that any state, regardless of its history, obtain clearance from the Justice Department before making changes to voting procedures that historically burden voters of color.

Following the Shelby v. Holder decision in 2013, at least 23 states have enacted voter suppression laws, including voter purges, strict ID requirements, poll closures, and curtailing of early voting hours. This has resulted in many eligible Americans being unable to utilize their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.

The legislation is supported by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center For Justice, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and the Human Rights Campaign.