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December 6, 2019

Rep. Kirkpatrick Votes to Protect Access to the Ballot and Pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act

Washington D.C. – Today, Rep. Rep. Kirkpatrick voted to pass H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, critical legislation to restore the full strength of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), following the disastrous Supreme Court Shelby v. Holder decision, which gutted the VRA’s ability to combat voter suppression and discrimination. Since the Shelby v. Holder decision, at least 23 states have enacted voter suppression laws, including voter purges, strict ID requirements, poll closures and curtailing of early voting hours.

“Nearly 55 years after the Voting Rights Act enshrined the sacred right to vote into law, access to the ballot box is under unprecedented threat,” said Rep. Kirkpatrick. “The unjust and dangerous Shelby decision unleashed a partisan voter suppression campaign across America that is silencing the most vulnerable and underrepresented communities. Unfortunately, Arizona was subject to pre-clearance requirements due to a shameful history of biased literacy tests and discrimination against Native Americans, among other offenses. Pre-clearance helped ensure Arizona and other states fully complied with the Voting Rights Act, thereby shielding underrepresented groups from discriminatory practices that impede on citizen’s access to the polls. It is an honor to join my colleagues to pass this historic legislation, which will restore vital voter protections and help ensure that every eligible voter in Arizona and the nation can have their voices heard.”

This historic bill to better ensure that every eligible American voter has full access to the ballot box has the support of a wide range of nonpartisan organizations, including the American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters of the United States, National Education Association, NAACP, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Native American Rights Fund.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act reestablishes full protections for voters in states with a recent history of discrimination. Among its key provisions, the bill:

  • In response to the Supreme Court decision, provides a new coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions are subject to preclearance, based on current conditions.
  • Also establishes “practice-based preclearance,” focusing administrative or judicial review narrowly on suspect practices that are most likely to be tainted by discriminatory intent or to have discriminatory effects, as demonstrated by a broad historical record.

“The right to vote is the very foundation of our democracy,” continued Rep. Kirkpatrick. “Generations of brave, patriotic Americans have fought, marched and given their lives to safeguard and expand the right to vote. In passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act, House Democrats are honoring our promises For The People, to ensure that every American, in every community can exercise their right without interference or discrimination.”

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