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Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), a Senior Chief Deputy Whip, made the following statement on the passage of H.R. 4, The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019, by a vote of 228-187. 

“I am so proud to have voted for and helped pass H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, a critical bill that will finally restore the full strength of the Voting Rights Act and undo the devastating harm caused by the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder. This decision opened the floodgates of voter discrimination and has led to swaths of voter suppression laws that are silencing the voices of Americans around the nation, especially in low-income communities and communities of color, and in areas with a consistent pattern of violations of every individual’s right to vote. We have seen state and local laws cut early voting, implement overly burdensome voter ID laws, purge voter rolls, and reduce the number of polling places. While the Supreme Court explicitly invited Congress to act, the Republican majority of the last 5 years refused to do so and remained complicit in gutting the right to vote.

“The Voting Rights Advancement Act would undo this harm and restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act. H.R. 4 would require states and localities with a pattern of discrimination to preclear election changes with the Department of Justice. It would also ensure that last-minute voting changes do not adversely affect voters by requiring jurisdictions to publicly disclose all voting changes that occur 180 days before an election. Finally, H.R. 4 would expand the Attorney General’s authority to send federal observers to any jurisdiction where it is believed there is a risk of discrimination at the polls on election day or during an early voting period.

“President Lyndon B. Johnson said it best, ‘There is no moral issue. It is wrong, deadly wrong, to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this county.’  As a Vice Chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, I have made it one of my priorities to ensure that voting rights in America are not infringed upon and that everyone has access to the democratic process. Today, I am proud to say that the House taken a huge step in ensuring that every Americans’ voice is heard. I call on my colleagues in the Senate to join us in protecting this cornerstone of our democracy and pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act. “