July 23, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) joined 47 of his Senate colleagues to introduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill to restore the landmark Voting Rights Act and end the scourge of voter suppression. The legislation has been renamed to honor the legacy of the late Congressman John Lewis.
“John Lewis fought every day of his life to make our nation live up to the ideals we hold dear – including the idea that we are a government of, by, and for the people,” said Senator King. “Through his work and the work of those who stood with him, America has made immense progress towards extending our promised rights to more Americans, but in recent years we’ve seen some of these gains withdrawn and chipped away. Now, we are left to carry his commitment and his courage forward in the fight for what is right. There is no better tribute to this great American than to pass this legislation, and advance the values he fought so hard to extend to all of our citizens.”
In 2013, the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision gutted critical voter protections within the Voting Rights Act, crippling the federal government’s ability to prevent discriminatory changes to state voting laws and procedures. In the wake of Shelby County, states across the country unleashed a torrent of voter suppression schemes that have systematically disenfranchised minority voters. These patently discriminatory efforts to restrict access to the ballot box undermine the progress and equality that John Lewis fought hard over the decades to achieve, from his time as a civil rights movement leader to his tenure in Congress. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore and modernize the Voting Rights Act, as well as provide the federal government with other critical tools to combat what has become a full-fledged assault on Americans’ right to vote.
Senator King has consistently focused on helping more Americans access their right to vote and protecting the integrity of our elections. Earlier this week, Senator King pressed state election officials and election rights experts on the importance of taking steps to support and defend U.S. elections in advance of the 2020 election. He is a cosponsor of the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act and the Election Security Act which would require voter-verifiable backup paper ballots and provide election security grants to states for cyber improvements and audits. During a Senate Rules Committee hearing in May 2019, Senator King questioned the four members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission about the agency’s role in ensuring the security of America’s elections, and expressed his deep concern about the lack of resources devoted to the agency.