Today, Rep. Greg Stanton joined his House colleagues to pass H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, to restore the full protections of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“Nothing in our democracy is more sacred than the right to vote. But that right is increasingly under attack in Arizona and in state houses across the country,” said Stanton, one of the bill’s sponsors. “The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will give the Voting Rights Act teeth again and help end a partisan attack on the ballot box––now the Senate must act.”
For decades, the VRA––with overwhelming bipartisan support––prevented states and localities from restricting the right to vote. In 2013, though, the Supreme Court gutted the law in Shelby County v. Holder by invalidating Section 4 and striking down the formula used to determine which jurisdictions are subject to federal oversight. In July 2021, the Court further weakened the law in its decision in Brnovich v. DNC which made it more difficult to challenge discriminatory voting laws under Section 2.
After the Supreme Court weakened voting rights protections, state legislatures across the country passed a series of restrictive voting laws that disproportionately suppress turnout among minorities, Tribal communities, young adults and the elderly––including efforts in Arizona to chip away at the state’s effective vote-by-mail program.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Specifically, the bill would address the Court’s Shelby County decision and establish an updated formula to determine which states and localities need federal pre-clearance before changing their voting laws. It also would establish a process for reviewing voting changes based on measures that have historically been used to discriminate against voters.
H.R. 4 also addresses the Court’s Brnovich v. DNC decision by setting a judicial standard of review that makes it easier for plaintiffs to prove violations under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which would apply in cases of claims of vote denial and vote dilution and ensure plaintiffs can fairly challenge discriminatory voting rules.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
An overview of the bill is available HERE.