WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger helped introduce legislation to protect voter equality and ensure voter access in Virginia and across the country.
Spanberger is a cosponsor of the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) of 2019, which would require states and localities with a recent history of voter discrimination to seek federal approval from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) before making any changes to their electoral laws. The legislation would ensure that states like Virginia are required to obtain preclearance for changes to voting practices and procedures. This provision would protect against voter disenfranchisement by ensuring laws are approved and constitutional before going into effect.
“Courageous men and women from Richmond, Virginia to Selma, Alabama and across the country risked their lives and livelihoods to fight for equal access to the ballot box. Their perseverance, bravery, and commitment to justice inspire me, decades later, to ensure that we are protecting the most foundational aspect of our democracy—our electoral system,” said Spanberger. “As some states attempt to erect new barriers that make it harder to vote, we must reaffirm our commitment to protect voting rights, restore the critical provisions established under the Voting Rights Act, and counteract voter suppression efforts that intentionally seek to disenfranchise voters. When voting rights are infringed, Congress must speak up—and I’m proud to help introduce this legislation to make sure all citizens can fully participate in our political process.”
Specifically, the Spanberger-backed VRAA restores the protection and enforcement of the Voting Rights Act after being gutted by the 2013 Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision. The VRAA restores Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act by creating a new coverage formula to determine which states and localities with a recent history of voting rights violations over the last 25 years must preclear election changes with the DOJ.
The VRAA also includes strengthened protections for Native Americans, naturalized citizens, and voters with disabilities. The bill is led by U.S. Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL-07), Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20), and Judy Chu (D-CA-27).
The VRAA is endorsed by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Brennan Center for Justice; Human Rights Campaign (HRC); Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC); National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund; Native American Rights Fund (NARF); National Education Association (NEA); Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF); and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.