WASHINGTON, D.C.–  Andrea Senteno, Washington D.C. regional counsel at MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), issued the following statement in response to yesterday’s vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4):

“The passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) in the U.S. House of Representatives is a critical step toward restoring voter protections that were lost after the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder.  Since then, legislators and officials have continued to discriminate against voters of color in the hopes of limiting the political power of an increasingly diverse U.S. population.  According to 2020 Census data, Latinos accounted for more than half of the country's population growth over the last decade.  H.R. 4 is urgently needed to ensure that new and more diverse generations of voters can access the ballot.

“The bill includes provisions that would require pre-approval for certain suspect election changes when they are implemented in a racially or ethnically diverse jurisdiction in any part of the country.  By requiring review of these particular election practices, which have been established through history as often used to target and suppress voters of color, this legislation will provide the Latino community and others with necessary and effective tools to push back and prevent voter discrimination where it occurs and to ensure that every citizen's voice and vote matters.

“As this legislation moves to the U.S. Senate, the time to pass H.R. 4 is now.  Congress must honor the legacy of our civil rights leaders, including the late Representative Lewis, by defending the right to vote.  The legitimacy of our democracy depends on protecting every American's right and access to the ballot.”