Scott Statement on House Passage of Voting Rights Advancement Act

December 6, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03) issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act:

“In 1964, the Supreme Court noted in Wesberry v. Saunders, ‘No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined.’ While this is certainly true, there is an unfortunate history in our country of blocking access to the ballot box for minorities. For this reason, Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Today, nearly 55 years after the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, the right to vote has come under attack after the disastrous Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision in 2013. That decision dismantled core provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act contains several important provisions; however, the pre-clearance provision in Section 5 is the most important of the law’s protections. Section 5 requires states and jurisdictions with a documented history of discrimination to submit changes to their election laws or procedures to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval. This process is commonly referred to as pre-clearance. After the Shelby decision at least 23 states have enacted newly restrictive statewide voting laws, and most of those changes have been shown to have a disproportionate impact on communities of color.

“The legislation we passed today will restore the full strength of the Voting Rights Act and ensure that all aspects over the law are enforceable. The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, and Congress has an obligation to ensure all eligible voters have the right to make their voices heard at the ballot box. H.R. 4 helps fulfill that obligation.”

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