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Press Release

John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act Introduced in Senate; Brennan Center Reacts

The legislation would restore protections against discriminatory voting laws.

October 5, 2021
Contact: Julian Brookes, Media Contact, brookesj@brennan.law.nyu.edu, 646-292-8376

For Imme­di­ate Release
Octo­ber 5, 2021

Today senat­ors intro­duced the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advance­ment Act. In many instances, this legis­la­tion would prevent legal changes to voting rules that discrim­in­ate on the basis of race or ethni­city from being imple­men­ted. The bill would also restore voters’ abil­ity to chal­lenge discrim­in­at­ory laws.

Sean Morales-Doyle, acting director of the Voting Rights and Elec­tions Program at the Center for Justice at NYU Law, had this reac­tion: 

“Amer­ican voters need the John Lewis Voting Rights Advance­ment Act to protect them from racial discrim­in­a­tion at the ballot box. They needed this legis­la­tion in 2013 when the Supreme Court struck down a key provi­sion of the Voting Rights Act, and they have even greater need for it today as states pass restrict­ive voting laws at an unpre­ced­en­ted rate.

“Before he died, John Lewis was appalled and enraged by what was happen­ing to voting rights. His name is on this bill because it matches his belief in a demo­cracy where the color of your skin has no bear­ing on your right to vote. His name is on this bill because he knew that Congress had to stand up for voters. He knew that Amer­ic­ans could no longer count on this Supreme Court for protec­tion, a Court that keeps look­ing the other way.

The sad real­ity is that the effects of race discrim­in­a­tion persisted even in the 2020 elec­tion with its record turnout. While voting was at a record high in every racial group, there was a large dispar­ity between white voters and voters of other races. Seventy-one percent of white voters cast ballots in 2020, compared to 58 percent of voters of other races. That gap will only get worse under the new state laws restrict­ing the vote.

“The House passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advance­ment Act. It’s now up to the Senate to do its part and pass this bill to keep our elec­tions fair for all.”

Bren­nan Center Research

Bren­nan Center Experts’ Testi­mony on the John Lewis Act