WASHINGTON DC – Today U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined 46 of their colleagues in co-sponsoring the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that would restore the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, combat minority voter suppression, and help preserve the legacy of John Lewis—one of America’s greatest civil rights heroes.
“John Lewis dedicated his life to bringing our country closer to realizing its ideals of equality and justice—and one important way we can honor and carry on that work is by fighting back against voter suppression that has for too long disenfranchised many Black voters and voters of color,” Senator Murray said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in reintroducing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in memory of one of our country’s greatest champions of ensuring every American can participate fully in our democracy.”
“John Lewis spent his life showing us how to fight for justice and equality and how to deliver real change. Now it’s our job to carry on his legacy,” Senator Cantwell said. “Restoring the Voting Rights Act and protecting access to the ballot box for millions of Americans is the right thing to do and the right way to honor his memory.”
In 2013, the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision gutted critical voter protections within the Voting Rights Act, crippling the federal government’s ability to prevent discriminatory changes to state voting laws and procedures. In the wake of Shelby County, states across the country have responded with strict voter ID laws and other voter suppression schemes that have systematically disenfranchised minority voters. These discriminatory efforts to restrict access to the ballot box undermine the progress and equality that John Lewis fought hard over the decades to achieve, from his time as a civil rights movement leader to his tenure in Congress.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore and modernize the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as provide the federal government with new critical tools to combat voter suppression throughout the states. The bill would update the Voting Rights Act formula used to determine which states and localities might need extra oversight of voting due to a pattern of discrimination. It would ensure that last-minute changes to polling locations or other election details do not adversely affect voters by requiring officials to publicly announce all voting changes at least 180 days before an election. It would also expand the government’s authority to send federal observers to any jurisdiction where there may be a substantial risk of discrimination at the polls on election day or during an early voting period.
In addition to Senators Murray, Cantwell, and Leahy, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is also cosponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Doug Jones (D-AL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Mark Warner (D-VA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tom Udall (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Jon Tester (D-MT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Joe Manchin (D-WV).
The full text of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act can be found HERE.
A summary of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act can be found HERE.