WASHINGTON, D.C. – MALDEF President and General Counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, released the following statement supporting the bicameral Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, introduced today by several Members of the House and Senate. The legislation is the latest action by Congress to restore the federal review of voting changes in states with a history of discriminating against minority voters. MALDEF, and coalition partners, developed a critical new formula in the bill that requires federal preclearance of six suspicious voting change practices that have been historically linked to voter discrimination.
“MALDEF welcomes the introduction of the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA), and urges the Congress to move quickly toward enactment. The vote is a precious and indispensable right whose availability should never rest on the wavering commitment of local or state elected officials.”
“For over a century, some local and state officials have employed all varieties of subterfuge to stem the political power of growing minority communities. This new VRAA — particularly through its inclusion of a new coverage formula, initiated and championed by MALDEF, focused on stemming those practices that have historically limited the minority vote and that are often used today to target emergent majorities — promises to relaunch the common, bipartisan national endeavor of securing the right to vote from all potential depredations. No member of Congress should oppose the reintroduction of the efficient and effective mechanism of pre-implementation review to prevent any eligible voter from being denied effective franchise.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ended federal monitoring of state voting changes two years ago, when it struck down the preclearance coverage formula of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby v. Holder, which determined those jurisdictions required to seek federal approval of changes to voting laws and practices, a process known as preclearance. The decision was condemned by MALDEF and other civil rights groups, who have been working with Congress ever since to bring back the critical protections.