By Tashi McQueen
AFRO Political Writer
On National Voter Registration Day, House Democrats re-introduced the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The bill was originally introduced in 2021.
“We are now 10 years removed from the disastrous Shelby County v. Holder decision where the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. In those 10 years, we witnessed relentless attacks on voter access,” said Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 19. “Closing polling stations without notification, bans on early voting and voting by mail, strict ID requirements, purging of voter rolls and the list goes on.”
The bill, H.R. 14, aims to protect the right to vote by restoring and modernizing full protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the name of the late civil rights activist and congressman John R. Lewis.
“It was our late colleague, John Lewis, who was stricken with cancer the last time he was on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. He still stood up and he said his last words, ‘We should never give up, never give in, keep the faith and keep our eyes on the prize,’” said Sewell. “We House Democrats are ready to get into some good trouble as we reintroduce the John Robert Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.”
Sewell said though they don’t have much support from House Republicans, they will make sure there is support through grassroots activities.
“I think it’s super important that Rep. Sewell introduced the legislation she did,” said Nina Kasniunas, a political science professor at Goucher College. “While this legislation probably has zero chance of advancing past the stage of being introduced because we have a Republican-controlled House, when people go to see what Congress is doing about voting rights, they will see that this legislation has been introduced, and they can see who is supporting.”
Kasniunas said Republican support is not out of the question but said it’s about priorities.
“Republicans have supported voting rights, and some of them continue to,” said Kasniunas. “Given that we are 11 days from a government shutdown because they can’t pass appropriations bills, I imagine that will be their primary focus, and they’ve given us no indication that they will take up voting rights legislation.”
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