Press Releases

Rep. Roybal-Allard Votes to Protect Fundamental Voting Rights for All Americans

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Washington, August 24, 2021 | Benjamin Bryant ((202) 309-2383) | comments

Washington, D.C. Today, U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) voted to pass H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, to restore critical protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and keep the promise of democracy for all Americans. In response to the most coordinated state-level efforts to restrict the right to vote in generations, H.R. 4 would prevent states and localities with a recent history of voter discrimination from these practices by requiring these jurisdictions to obtain federal preclearance before changing their voting laws. H.R. 4 passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 219 to 212.

Named for the late Congressman and civil rights icon John Robert Lewis, H.R. 4 restores Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act by establishing a modern-day formula that requires states and localities with a recent history of voter discrimination to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Justice before making changes to their voting laws.

“I am proud to have cosponsored and voted for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard. “For Americans of all backgrounds and in all communities, the right to vote is both critical and fundamental. All Americans deserve to have a voice in making decisions that impact our lives, families, and communities for generations to come. Unfortunately, bolstered by the recent Supreme Court decision making it more difficult for voters to challenge discriminatory voting laws, our nation is facing numerous attempts to implement unfair and unjust barriers to the ballot box. The Court’s decision and the political motivations of some are continuing to make it harder for minorities to exercise this fundamental right, challenging what should be an unbreachable pillar of our democracy. As states across the country enact restrictive, anti-voter laws, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would help protect voters’ contributions by strengthening our ability to block state and local governments from passing suppressive and discriminatory bills.

“I was honored to serve alongside John Lewis, who like so many others dedicated himself to protecting the right of all Americans to vote,” Rep. Roybal-Allard continued. “Today, we helped to honor their sacrifice and further their mission with the passage of this bill. No matter what their race, background, or community, Americans deserve to participate in our governmental processes. It’s never been more urgent to protect the sacred right to vote, and I thank my colleagues who supported this crucial legislation and helped send the clear message that efforts to restrict the right to vote cannot and will not be tolerated.”

The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act also:

  • Allows federal courts to immediately halt questionable voting practices until a final ruling is made. This provision recognizes that when voting rights are at stake, prohibiting a discriminatory practice after the election has concluded is too late to truly protect voters' rights.
  • Gives the Attorney General authority to request that federal observers be present anywhere in the country where discriminatory voting practices pose a serious threat.
  • Increases transparency by requiring reasonable public notice for voting changes.
  • Includes a retrogression standard for already-enacted but not-yet-implemented measures.
  • Help plaintiffs to seek injunctive relief for voting rights violations in the lead-up to an election. 
  • Establishes a grant program for small jurisdictions to help them comply with the bill’s various notice requirements. 

A summary of H.R. 4 can be found here. The full text of the bill can be found here.

 

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