Statement of Sylvia Albert, Common Cause Director of Voting & Elections
It is critically important that Congress pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect the freedom to vote of every American. The legislation, introduced today in the United States House of Representatives, will repair much of the damage done to the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts. In concert with the For the People Act, this legislation will curb the coordinated effort by Republican state legislatures across the country to silence Black and Brown voters who showed up in record numbers last year to vote. Already this year, 18 states have enacted 30 restrictive voting bills that make it harder for Americans to have a say in choosing our elected leaders.
Not since the Jim Crow era have the voting rights of Black and Brown Americans faced such a withering assault. The wholesale abuses and attacks on the freedom to vote during the Jim Crow era were checked by the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and rigorous enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice. Those abuses and attacks on the voting rights of American citizens have returned and they must again be halted. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will curb these assaults on the freedom to vote and restore the ability of the Department of Justice to protect that sacred freedom.
We commend Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) for introducing this critical piece of legislation and we urge both the House and Senate to pass it swiftly so that it can be signed into law by President Biden. Ten current Senate Republicans voted for the Voting Rights Act reauthorization when it passed the Senate 98-0 in 2006. If 10 Senate Republicans won’t support this bill, then Senate Democrats must reform the filibuster. The freedom to vote must be protected for every American. The attacks on that freedom must be countered and brought to an end through passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act.