WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today helped pass legislation to defend Americans against attacks on their fundamental right to make their voices heard at the ballot box.
Across the United States, Americans are facing a pattern of suppressive laws and practices, like the unfair purging of voters from the rolls and the moving or elimination of polling places. These barriers prevent eligible voters from participating in our democratic system, and they disproportionately target minority communities, voters with disabilities, and naturalized citizens. The Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) would work to counteract these incursions by restoring the full force of the Voting Rights Act, renewing protections that were gutted by the 2013 Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision.
“From our nation’s founding to the Civil Rights movement, Virginians have always stood up to fight for their most foundational right – a voice in our government. That fight continues today, in the face of unprecedented efforts to silence Americans through voter suppression efforts that seek to disenfranchise some people from participating in our democratic system,” said Spanberger. “The right to vote is the bedrock of our system of government, and I’m proud to help pass this legislation to restore vital voter protections, strengthen our democracy, renew faith in our electoral system, and defend each Virginian’s right to be heard.”
Spanberger originally cosponsored the VRAA in March. The legislation would require states and localities with a recent history of voter discrimination to seek federal approval from the U.S. Department of Justice 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.
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 NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; 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.