DEMOCRATS JOHNSON AND NORTON HAIL U.S. HOUSE PASSAGE OF NEW ANTI-DISCRIMINATION VOTING RIGHTS BILL

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[Congress\Voter Suppression\H.R. 4]
Since the Shelby v. Holder decision, at least 23 states have enacted voter suppression laws that encompass voter purges, strict ID requirements, poll closures and curtailing of early voting hours – including Georgia.
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Friday, Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) voted to pass H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, critical legislation to restore the full strength of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), following the disastrous Supreme Court Shelby v. Holder decision, which gutted the VRA’s ability to combat voter suppression and discrimination.

Since the Shelby v. Holder decision, at least 23 states have enacted voter suppression laws that encompass voter purges, strict ID requirements, poll closures and curtailing of early voting hours – including Georgia.

“Nearly 55 years after the Voting Rights Act enshrined the sacred right to vote into law, access to the ballot box is under unprecedented threat,” said Rep. Johnson.The unjust and dangerous Shelby decision unleashed a partisan voter suppression campaign across America that is silencing the most vulnerable and underrepresented communities. It is an honor to join my colleagues to pass this historic legislation, which will restore vital voter protections and help ensure that every eligible voter in Georgia and the nation can have their voices heard.”

This historic bill to better ensure that every eligible American voter has full access to the ballot box has the support of a wide range of nonpartisan organizations, including the American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters of the United States, National Education Association, NAACP, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Native American Rights Fund.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act re-establishes full protections for voters in states with a recent history of discrimination. Among its key provisions, the bill:

• In response to the Supreme Court decision, provides a new coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions are subject to preclearance, based on current conditions.

• Also establishes “practice-based preclearance,” focusing administrative or judicial review narrowly on suspect practices that are most likely to be tainted by discriminatory intent or to have discriminatory effects, as demonstrated by a broad historical record.

“The right to vote is the very foundation of our democracy,” continued Rep. Johnson. “Generations of brave, patriotic Americans have fought, marched and given their lives to safeguard and expand the right to vote – including my friend and colleague Congressman John Lewis. In passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act, House Democrats are honoring the sacrifices of people like Congressman Lewis and an entire generation of Civil Rights Movement heroes and keeping our promises of For The People, to ensure that every American, in every community can exercise their right without interference or discrimination.”

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), who strongly supported House passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4), said the bill’s passage reinforces her own District of Columbia statehood bill (H.R. 51), which gives D.C. residents equal voting rights in Congress.

Norton said both bills stand for the right to vote as the backbone of our democracy. Since the 2013 Supreme Court decision partially invalidating the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA), Shelby County v. Holder, voter suppression laws have depressed turnout in the United States, particularly in communities of color.

“In celebrating House passage of H.R. 4 today, I could not help but note the ultimate case of voter suppression: denying D.C. residents voting rights on the floor of the House and the Senate,” Norton said. “Noteworthy as well is H.R. 1, the bill that contains multiple ways to strengthen the franchise, contained both endorsements of the VRA and H.R. 21, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. Fortunately, during this 116th Congress, we also anticipate House passage of H.R. 51.”

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