Kuster votes to restore protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, pass John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02) voted in favor of H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, legislation that would restore key protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) and protect voters from discrimination. House passage of this bill comes amid state-level efforts across the nation to restrict access to the ballot box and make it more difficult for Americans to exercise their right to vote.
“The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, and today, I was proud to help protect that right for Americans across the country,” said Rep. Kuster. “The rise in state-level efforts to restrict voting access is despicable, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. Today’s passage demonstrates that we will not let our democracy be threatened by partisan measures. I urge the Senate to quickly take up this bill, honor the Late John Lewis’s legacy, and ensure every American can access the ballot box and make their voices heard.”
For decades, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) ensured equal access to the ballot box for Black and minority voters by requiring states and localities with a history of voter discrimination — as determined in Section 4 — to obtain pre-clearance from the Department of Justice before making changes to their voting laws. However, in its 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority struck down Section 4, arguing that voter discrimination was an issue of the past and that the formula used to determine which states and localities were subject to preclearance was outdated.
On July 1, 2021, in its decision in Brnovich v. DNC, the Supreme Court struck another blow to the VRA, upholding Arizona’s voting laws targeting Latino and other minority voters and making it more difficult for parties to challenge racially discriminatory voting laws under Section 2.
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore protections of the VRA gutted by the Supreme Court, and prohibit states and localities with a recent history of voter discrimination from restricting the right to vote by including an updated formula for determining which states and localities are subject to federal oversight. It would also amend Section 2 of the VRA to eliminate the heightened standard for challenging voter discrimination that the Supreme Court created in its decision in Brnovich v. DNC.