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McCollum Statement on House Passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

August 24, 2021
Press Release
H.R. 4 Strengthens the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Addressing Two Key Supreme Court Decisions that Weakened the Act and Unleashed Voter Suppression Laws

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) released the following statement today after voting to pass H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021:

“Minnesota prides itself in leading the way to make sure everyone can vote and every vote counts. At a time of unprecedented Republican-led attacks and threats to voting rights in state legislatures across the nation, urgent federal action is needed. If we are going to sustain and strengthen our democracy, Democrats in Congress and the American people need to stand up and defend it. I had the privilege of serving with Representative John Lewis in the U.S. House of Representatives. He marched the Edmund Pettus Bridge 56 years ago, and nearly died defending our right to vote. I proudly voted for H.R. 4 to uphold John Lewis’s legacy and protect every American’s fundamental right to vote.”

Background:

  • Congresswoman McCollum is a cosponsor of H.R. 4. The bill text can be found here. A fact sheet is available here.
  • This critical bill finally restores the full strength of the Voting Rights Act, after the disastrous Supreme Court decisions of Shelby County v. Holder in 2013 and Brnovich v. DNC in 2021. 
  • State lawmakers have introduced over 400 voter suppression bills in 49 states in the 2021 legislative session alone. At least 18 states enacted 30 laws that restrict access to the ballot, with many more on the way. The laws suppress the vote, as they make mail voting and early voting more difficult, reduce polling place availability, unleash a flurry of faulty voter purges, and increase barriers to the vote for Americans with disabilities, among other blatant suppression tactics. Under the VRA, these tactics would have been prevented from becoming law, but seven years ago, the Supreme Court gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act – preclearance – in the Shelby v. Holder decision. Preclearance requires areas with a proven history of discrimination to preclear that any new change to their elections would not be discriminatory. Preclearance stopped thousands of discriminatory voter suppression laws for the first 50 years after passage of the VRA – but the Shelby decision unleashed a torrent of discriminatory laws.
  • Now, with H.R. 4, the House is restoring preclearance with a new formula, which is ironclad constitutionally and which will make significant progress to restore the purpose of the VRA.

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