TUCSON — Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva released the following statement after voting in support of H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
“In far too many states across our country, including Arizona, the fundamental right to vote is in a constant state of erosion,” said Rep. Grijalva. “This year alone, 18 states have enacted 30 laws restricting the right to vote. Those brazen attacks on voting rights by state legislatures and local lawmakers demonstrate precisely why the protections of the Voting Rights Act are still woefully needed. Slowly and methodically, those federal voting protections to prevent racial discrimination have been gutted. I was deeply disappointed in the Shelby County v. Holder decision which struck down a key section of the VRA which required states with histories of suppressing minority voting to clear voting law changes with federal authorities in advance. That decision immediately invited a flood of states to enact overt and covert anti-voter tactics that continue to target minority voters today and that has left voters with no redress.”
“Just last month, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority upheld Arizona’s discriminatory anti-voter laws, which disproportionately target Latino and Native American voters, thereby eviscerating another key section of the VRA which prohibits voting practices that discriminate against minority groups. All in all, these efforts have had a chilling effect on our voting laws and the confidence of the American people in our Democratic system.”
“The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will allow us to reinforce and restore the VRA and fulfill our promise to our constituents. It will block discriminatory voting practices before they go into effect and help remove barriers that prevent minority voters from making their voices heard loud and clear. Arizonans know first-hand how damaging voter suppression laws can be, H.R. 4 will help steer us back in the right direction.”
H.R. 4 enhances the VRA in many important ways including restoring the preclearance requirement, allowing the federal government to once again reject many restrictions to voting, and creating a new practice-based preclearance requirement. The bill also eliminates the heightened standard for challenging voter suppression laws, which was created by the Brnovich decision.
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will also:
- Allow federal courts to immediately halt measures that put voting rights at stake until a final ruling is made.
- Empower the Attorney General to request that federal election observers be present anywhere in the country where discriminatory voting practices pose a serious threat.
- Require reasonable public notice for proposed voting changes to increase transparency.
- Allow the federal government to review already-enacted but not-yet-implemented measures.
- Help plaintiffs seek injunctive relief for voting rights violations ahead of an election.
- Establish a grant program for small jurisdictions to help them comply with the bill’s requirement to provide public notice for proposed voting laws.