Rep. Kelly Votes to Pass John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

John Lewis, Robin Kelly, sit-in gun control
Congressman John Lewis and Congresswoman Robin Kelly took to the floor of the House, literally, a year ago, to call for stronger gun control measures. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

Washington, D.C.-(ENEWSPF)- Rep. Robin L. Kelly (IL-02), voted to pass H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This bill will restore critical protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to protect our democracy and ensure the right to vote for all Americans. 

 “Today we passed historic voting rights legislation; our vote could not have come at a more critical time, said Congresswoman Kelly. “Throughout the past year, lawmakers around the country have introduced more than 400 bills that would restrict the right to vote and in 18 states, anti-voter bills have already been signed into law. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will protect American voters regardless of which state they call their home.  

 “The right to vote is fundamental, and yet it is under attack. Today we embrace the spirit of heroes like John Lewis, who shed blood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the right of all Americans to vote. I am proud to honor their legacy by voting to pass H.R. 4 and protect the rights of voters across our country.”

Named for the late Congressman and civil rights icon John Robert Lewis, H.R. 4 restores Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act by establishing a modern-day formula that requires states and localities with a recent history of voter discrimination to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Justice before making changes to their voting laws. 

For areas to qualify for judicial pre-clearance, they must have the following qualifications:

  • States with a history of 15 or more violations at any level in the previous 25 years
  • States with a history of 10 or more violations, if one violation occurs at the state level in the previous 25 years
  • Subdivisions with 3 or more violations in the subdivision in the previous 25 years

H.R. 4 also restores Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by eliminating the heightened standard for challenging discriminatory voting laws created by the Supreme Court in Brnovich v. DNC.

The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act also:

  • Allows federal courts to immediately halt questionable voting practices until a final ruling is made. This provision recognizes that when voting rights are at stake, prohibiting a discriminatory practice after the election has concluded is too late to truly protect voters’ rights.
  • Gives the Attorney General authority to request that federal observers be present anywhere in the country where discriminatory voting practices pose a serious threat.
  • Increases transparency by requiring reasonable public notice for voting changes.
  • Includes a retrogression standard for already-enacted but not-yet-implemented measures.
  • Help plaintiffs to seek injunctive relief for voting rights violations in the lead-up to an election. 
  • Establishes a grant program for small jurisdictions to help them comply with the bill’s various notice requirements. 

Full text of H.R. 4 is available here.