Rep. Payne, Jr. Votes for John Lewis Act to Protect Voting Rights for all Americans

August 24, 2021
Press Release

Media Contact:  Patrick Wright   --  Patrick.Wright@mail.house.gov

Washington, D.C. — Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. voted today for the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021.  The bill (H.R. 4) requires states that have consistently violated federal voting laws to get permission from the federal government before they can change their voting practices.  This rule would apply to states that have committed 15 or more violations within a 25-year period or 10 violations in the same period if the state was directly responsible for at least one of these violations.  It is designed to stop states from passing laws that infringe on the voting rights of American minorities, such as African Americans, and makes it easier for the U.S. Department of Justice and private citizens to enforce these rights in court.   

“We need this bill to become law because the right to vote is under assault nationwide,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr.  “Too many states have limited, or are trying to limit, the power of the vote for Americans, particular African Americans and other minorities.  Voting rights was one of the top priorities for Congressman John Lewis and this bill would restore faith and trust in our democracy.  The right to vote must be protected because it is the most sacred and fundamental right we enjoy as Americans.  I hope the Senate will pass it and make it federal law.”

The bill is critical right now because 18 states have passed 30 new laws to restrict voting access in their communities.  These new laws limit early voting, absentee voting, put restrictions on access to ballot drop boxes, and even punish people who provide water for Americans waiting to vote.  Voting experts have said these measures would make it much harder for minorities and low-income Americans to vote in the future.  Also, the bill would restore voting protections from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were removed in the 2013 Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder.  In that case, the high court said a provision of the Voting Rights Act was invalid because it needed to be updated to fit modern American voting demographics and districts.  The bill would update the necessary provision to answer the court’s concern.     

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