U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Home Democratic Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) have introduced a bill to restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act aims to address the weakening of the 1965 law by the U.S. Supreme Court. Below this proposed legislation, jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination would need to have approval from the Division of Justice or a federal court prior to altering their voting laws to guarantee that the modifications are not discriminatory. Furthermore, the bill would make it much easier for voters to challenge discriminatory voting laws in court.
Dr. Jennifer Jones, director of the Center for Science and Democracy (CSD) at the Union of Concerned Scientists, emphasizes the significance of this legislation. She highlights that in the decade because the Supreme Court’s Shelby ruling, at least 29 states have passed laws that make it tougher for individuals to vote. These laws disproportionately have an effect on Black, Latino, Asian, and Native voters. Measures such as lowering polling areas and absentee voting possibilities in regions with huge minority populations, limiting access to multilingual voting components, and facilitating the removal of voters from registration lists have had a discriminatory influence.
Dr. Jones argues that the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is essential for the reason that these state laws are taking us back to a time when voting was a privilege determined by race and social status. Such exclusions are detrimental to the public interest for the reason that choices created in the absence of diverse voices are not definitely representative or equitable. She also emphasizes that the overall health of a democracy is connected to the overall health of a nation and its individuals.
The Center for Science and Democracy’s report, titled “Our Unhealthy Democracy,” delves additional into how attacks on voting rights undermine public overall health, supplying further sources on this subject.