March 13, 2018
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala) today cosponsored the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2017 (S. 1419), introduced by Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). The bill will both modernize and restore the protections established in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). The new legislation would help combat persistent forms of voter discrimination and improve the federal government’s ability to protect minority, elderly, and disadvantaged voters across the country.
“The act of voting is at the very heart of our democracy and it is our most basic duty as citizens,” said Senator Doug Jones. “Unfortunately, throughout our nation’s history, and still today, there are countless examples of those in power fighting to strip that right. Not coincidentally, those efforts often impact minorities, the elderly, and disabled citizens the most. That’s why I’m proud to join Congresswoman Sewell and our colleagues to protect this fundamental right for every American.”
The VRA was created to ensure proper enforcement of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, particularly for minorities who had faced state-sanctioned discrimination as a result of Jim Crow laws. In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder gutted the core of the VRA and opened the door for states to create unconstitutional barriers that make it harder for citizens to vote. In that decision, the Court struck down a key provision of the VRA, ruling that it was unconstitutional to require state and local governments to earn federal approval before changing their voting laws. This provision was designed to ensure accountability among jurisdictions with a demonstrated history of discriminatory voting practices.