WASHINGTON, D.C – Today, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) was introduced in the U.S. Senate. Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, issued the following statement:
“Fifty-six years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, and eight years after Shelby v. Holder gutted the landmark Act, our country is caught in a surge of voter suppression; with Republican state legislators introducing a surge of bills restricting access to the ballot box. As of July 22, state lawmakers in 48 states have introduced more than 400 bills and enacted 30 laws that create barriers to the freedom to vote.
“Public Citizen applauds the introduction of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This critical piece of legislation is desperately needed to protect the freedom to vote. Passage of this historic bill must be a central piece of the larger effort to counter the unprecedented wave of voter suppression laws advancing in the states and to protect eligible voters from further disenfranchisement. It is time to restore the Voting Rights Act to its full strength without delay.
“In 2006, the Voting Rights Act was reauthorized overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives and by unanimous vote in the Senate. President George W. Bush signed it into law enthusiastically, stating, ‘In four decades since the Voting Rights Act was first passed, we’ve made progress toward equality, yet the work for a more perfect union is never-ending… Today, we renew a bill that helped bring a community on the margins into the life of American democracy.’
“In 2021, with voting rights under assault without parallel since the initial passage of the Voting Rights Act, there’s even more reason for there to be unanimous Senate support for voting rights legislation than there was in 2006. Unfortunately, there’s precious little chance of that occurring. Instead, we’re likely to see the invocation of the same Senate filibuster rules that have delayed or blocked racial justice legislation for a century. If Republican Senators deploy the filibuster to block the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, then the Senate must find a way to work around it. Arcane Senate rules must not stand in the way of guaranteeing the fundamental freedom to vote.”