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Booker Joins Leahy, Durbin, Coons & House Tri-Caucus Leaders to Restore and Advance The Voting Rights Act

Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 Would Protect Americans’ Across the Nation from Discrimination in Voting

June 24, 2015

WASHINGTON– Today, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, (D-N.J.) cosponsored the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) of 2015, which seeks to restore and advance voting protections for all Americans.

Two years since the Supreme Court gutted core protections in the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, states and localities throughout the country have passed sweeping laws that disproportionately suppress the voting rights of minorities. These laws have left voters without the protections they need to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

Sen. Booker joined Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) to introduce the measure in the Senate. Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresswoman Linda Sánchez(D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, introduced an identical measure in the House.

"As we confront the myriad of challenges our country continues to face, we do so with the knowledge that we drink deeply from wells of freedom and liberty that we did not ourselves dig," Sen. Booker said. "This bill helps to build upon the legacy of those foot soldiers who labored before us to defend the American dream of liberty and justice for all. The right to vote is an American birthright that we all have a moral obligation to protect.”

“The Voting Rights Advancement Act is a voting rights bill for all Americans,” Sen. Leahy said. "It is a bill for the next generation, and helps protect the legacy of the previous generation who fought so hard five decades ago for these voting rights protections."

Protections under the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 will extend to all voters nationwide. The legislation targets certain voting practices known to suppress the voting rights of minorities. The bill is the result of collaboration with those at the grassroots who have witnessed the harmful effects that discriminatory voting laws have had in their communities.

Key provisions of the bill include:

  • A new geographic coverage formula that is based on current conditions. The bill establishes a “rolling” nationwide trigger that continuously moves so that only states that have a recent record of racial discrimination in voting would be covered.
  • Allows federal courts to bail in states for preclearance. Current law permits states or jurisdictions to be bailed in if an intentional violation can be shown. The new legislation offers more protection by allowing a court to bail in states or jurisdictions whose voting practices have discriminatory results.
  • Greater transparency in federal elections to ensure that voters are made aware of late-breaking changes in voting procedures. The additional sunlight will deter discrimination from occurring and protect voters from discrimination.
  • Revises the standard for preliminary injunctions for voting rights cases, allowing a court at the start of litigation to immediately halt a challenged voting practice until a final ruling. This provision recognizes that when voting rights are at stake, stopping a discriminatory practice after the election has already concluded is too late to vindicate voters’ rights.

An outline of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 can be found here, and a sectional analysis can be found here. Text of legislation can also be found online.