Washington, DC – The Friends Committee on National Legislation praised today’s passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (H.R. 4) in the House of Representatives. The bill will restore the protections of 1965’s Voting Rights Act by developing a process to determine which states must seek prior clearance for election law changes with the Justice Department.
Contact: Tim McHugh, Friends Committee on National Legislation, firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-903-2515
“Our government and its institutions work best when all of our citizens feel empowered and are involved in our democracy on a free, fair, and equal basis. That is bedrock for a stable, healthy society,” said Diane Randall, FCNL’s executive secretary. “The 2020 election is less than a year away and this bill cannot wait any longer. We urge the Senate to take action on this foundational pillar to our democracy.”
This Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) would create a new standard by which election pre-clearance is required. Pre-clearance applies to states that need the Justice Department’s approval for changes in their election laws. This can stop voting violations before they begin, meaning less voter suppression, a problem that disproportionately affects communities of color.
The VRAA will subject states to pre-clearance if they have 15 or more voting rights violations over the past 25 years, or more than 10 voting rights violations with at least one committed by the state itself. Local jurisdictions must notify the public if they change voter roll regulations, prerequisites for voting, or other voting procedures within 180 days of an election. It will also require a nationwide, practice-based pre-clearance of known discriminatory practices, including the creation of at-large districts and cuts to polling places.
“The belief that all votes must not just count but count equally has been a concern for voters since at least the 2000 election, if not earlier. Our history of discrimination continues to manifest itself in our voting systems. As recently as 2018, reports of voter suppression in Georgia, Florida, and elsewhere lead to confusion and distrust of election results,” said José Woss, FCNL’s legislative manager for criminal justice and election integrity. “The VRAA will not solve the many election problems in one fell swoop, but it will serve as a step in the right direction. Congress owes it to the public to get this right before voters head to the polls in 2020.”
The bill now moves to the Senate where its prospects are currently unclear.
To learn more, please visit www.fcnl.org.