New York On Track To Pass Its Own John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 02: People visit a voting site at a YMCA on Election Day, November 02, 2021, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 02: People visit a voting site at a YMCA on Election Day, November 02, 2021, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

Heading into the 2022 midterm elections, Americans must contend with the many voting restrictions passed in Republican-led states. A Senate push earlier this year to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act failed with no revision in sight. However, New York has passed a version that borrows many of the Congressional bill’s principles through the state senate. Once Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) signs the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York, it will be the country’s most substantial set of voter protections in the nation.

The new provisions as laid out in the bill are as follows

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The pre-clearance part is important because the Supreme Court gutted a similar provision of the federal Voting Rights Act that required states and municipalities with histories of discrimination to get federal approval from the Department of Justice before they made any adjustments to election procedures.

Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie (D-Central Brooklyn), the bill’s lead author, gave the following statement after the New York Senate passed the Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Act of New York, named in tribute to John R. Lewis, will enact the strongest voter protections of any state in the country and provide legal recourse for voters whose rights are denied or abridged. We’re fighting for the VRA not to favor any political party or ideology, but instead because we know the right to vote is the sacred underpinning of our system of government. With the federal government increasingly unable to advance voting rights, states must step into the void, and I’m incredibly proud the Senate has passed the VRA.