New York Joins Other States in Approving State-Level Voting Rights Act
The New York State Senate and New York State Assembly have passed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of New York (NYVRA), which Gov. Kathy Hochul should sign into law once it lands on her desk. If adopted, the NYVRA would become the most comprehensive state Voting Rights Act in the country.
It would protect communities of color from attacks on their freedom to vote by preventing discriminatory voting laws from being enacted, providing new, legal tools for fighting voting discrimination in court and instructing state judges to interpret laws in a pro-voter manner wherever possible.
It would also draw upon the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act (VRA), as well as state VRAs previously enacted in the states of Virginia, Washington, Oregon and California, to offer other safeguards.
The need for statehouses to pass voter protection laws is more important than ever.
When the federal VRA was still in full effect, it allowed the number of voters of color and elected officials to swell in the latter half of the 20th century by instituting a preclearance process, which required the Department of Justice to review new rules from states and localities with long histories of voting discrimination before they were implemented.