WASHINGTON (August 24, 2021)—Today, the U.S. House passed H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. If passed into law, this bill would restore and strengthen the right to vote by ensuring that the federal government can protect voting rights and prevent racial discrimination. That’s a vital step to protect democracy and ensure that communities can advocate for their own health and safety, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
Below is a statement by Johanna Chao Kreilick, president of UCS.
“Civil rights leaders like the late John Lewis risked their lives to secure the right to vote. Today, the accomplishments they fought for are in danger from a new wave of voting restrictions that are undermining participation in democracy, especially for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities.
“We’ve seen opponents of voting rights in state legislatures step up their efforts to restrict access to the ballot, especially since the Supreme Court has severely weakened the federal government’s ability to protect voting rights over the past decade, including in the Shelby County decision, which gutted Section 4 of the VRA. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will defend voters against discriminatory and arbitrary limits on their ability to participate in their own government.
“The House passage of this bill is one necessary step in the process. Now it’s time for the U.S. Senate to act. Our democracy is under threat, and our elected leaders must take action to protect it.”
Earlier this year, UCS joined an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, asking the court to uphold Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and preserve voters’ ability to challenge ballot restrictions. The court’s subsequent ruling in this case caused further damage to the VRA. The recent UCS report “Our Unhealthy Democracy” shows how attacks on voting rights undermine public health. UCS supports the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, as well as the For the People Act, to create federal standards to defend our democracy.