Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would give all Americans the opportunity to participate in our democracy and have their voices heard. This bill reestablishes critical voting rights protections that were created by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and undermined by the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

Passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act today builds on the progress that the House made in advancing H.R. 1, the For the People Act, earlier this year. These bills, which are awaiting passage by the U.S. Senate, are a comprehensive approach to fixing our democracy that includes modernizing our voting and election laws, ending money in politics, and enacting widespread ethics reforms.

The Declaration for American Democracy is a diverse coalition of more than 145 democracy, environmental, faith-based, good government, civil rights, and other groups focused on advancing the structural changes necessary to ensure our democracy reflects, responds to, and represents voters. Coalition members applauded the passage of H.R. 4.

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, said: “This important bill is a commonsense approach that responds to the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down a long-standing key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 196.”

William Samuel, Director of Government Affairs at the AFL-CIO, said: “This bill offers a flexible nationwide approach to protecting voters from discriminatory practices, and it is an important step toward restoration of the protections undermined by the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder.”

Myrna Pérez, Director of the Brennan Center’s Voting Rights and Elections Program, said: “With their vote today, House members have committed to eliminating racial discrimination at the polls. Restoring the Voting Rights Act of 1965 would bring back crucial protections for millions of voters whose paths to the ballot box have been obstructed. Our country functions best when we all have a fair say in how it is governed.”

Emma Greenman, Director of Voting Rights & Democracy at the Center for Popular Democracy, said:    “Our democracy must work for us all, not just for a privileged few. Yet since Shelby County v. Holder gutted the Voting Rights Act (VRA), self-interested state and local lawmakers have acted to restrict the right to vote, especially in states with a long and deep history of anti-democratic voter suppression. We applaud Speaker Pelosi and the House of Representatives for passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore and strengthen the critical civil rights protections for voters in the Voting Rights Act. We urge the Senate to pass this without delay. With the 2020 presidential less than a year away, we need this legislation to ensure that every voter, in every zip code can exercise their right to vote.”

Liz Wally, Executive Director of Clean Elections Texas, said: “Clean Elections Texas strongly supports the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4), because our state was directly impacted in 2013, when the Shelby Country v Holder decision seriously damaged the Voting Rights Act .  Texas was the first state to take advantage of the change.  According to an article by the  Brennan Center, The Effects of Shelby County v. Holder,  ‘Within hours of the Shelby County decision, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement, ‘With today’s decision, the State’s voter ID law will take effect immediately. Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government.’’  More efforts at voter suppression continue to this day. The Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) will help to heal the damage done by the destructive Shelby decision by modernizing the Voting Rights Act and by restoring necessary protections so that every citizen can participate in our democracy.”

Sylvia Albert, Director of Voting and Elections at Common Cause, said: “The Voting Rights Act, which has been reauthorized five times with strong bipartisan congressional support and the signatures of five Republican presidents, is a bedrock of American democracy. As some states and localities increasingly try to suppress votes and silence Americans, especially those from historically underrepresented communities, we must modernize the Voting Rights Act to ensure that the voices of all eligible American voters can be heard. Common Cause strongly supports the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4), which we will key-vote for our 2020 Democracy Scorecard, and we will continue to pressure Majority Leader McConnell and all Republican Senators to support this critical legislation.”

Shane Larson, Director of Legislation, Politics, and International Affairs for the Communications Workers of America, said: “Our voting rights have been stripped away by Republicans who have been working to proactively suppress votes in order to win elections. We need to act now to restore the Voting Rights Act before the 2020 elections, so that all working people are able to exercise their right to vote. CWA is thankful to our allies in the U.S. House for passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4), which would restore and strengthen voting rights. We encourage the Senate to stop prioritizing installing Mitch McConnell’s list of judges who he has hand-picked to continue undermining voting rights and instead restore our democratic process by passing this legislation in the Senate.”

Jana Morgan, Campaign Director of Declaration for American Democracy, said: “Our democracy works best when all voices can be heard – but modern-day voter suppression tactics continue to stifle the voices of millions, especially in communities of color. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, a bold, comprehensive democracy reform package that would fix our broken democracy and curb the culture of corruption in Washington. Combined with today’s House passage of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, Congress is one step closer to creating a democracy that is truly of, by, and for the people. The Senate must now bring H.R. 1 and H.R. 4 to the floor for a vote immediately. We won’t allow Senator McConnell to halt progress on these critical democracy reforms Americans are demanding – and the House of Representatives delivered.”

Fred Wertheimer, Founder and President of Democracy 21, said:  “H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, is essential legislation to repair the damage done by the misguided Shelby decision. It does so by modernizing the Voting Rights Act and by restoring protections necessary to prevent voter discrimination and voter suppression and thereby to preserve the inalienable right to vote for eligible voters. H.R. 4 must be enacted into law to ensure that race is not used to prevent any eligible voter from exercising a uniquely powerful right provided in our democracy – the right to vote.”

Wendy Fields, Executive Director of Democracy Initiative, said: “Today’s House passage of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA), is an important victory on the road to defeating the rise of voter suppression and ensuring that all Americans, especially Black and Brown and other marginalized people, can take their rightful place at the governing table and have a meaningful voice in decision-making that affects their lives. Together with our 72 partner organizations representing 45 million Americans, we commend the House for taking us another step closer to delivering on the promise of American democracy. And, we call on the Senate to stop being a legislative graveyard and get on with doing the people’s business.”

Tiffany Muller, President of End Citizens United Action Fund, said: “Our democracy only works when every American has equal access to the voting booth. The Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) ensures all eligible voters can cast their ballot free from discrimination. We applaud Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) for her leadership on the bill and the House for passing this vital piece of legislation. The Voting Rights Advancement Act is critical to keeping the promise of our democracy.”

Rob Richie, President and CEO of FairVote, said: ”Our vote is our voice, we have no task more important than strengthening our democracy and protecting the hard-won fight to participate in it. We must support H.R. 4 to reinvigorate the Voting Rights Act and ensure equity for all — and we must continue to seek electoral reforms that give all voters greater choice. a stronger voice, and more representative outcomes in elections that are truly free and fair.”

Patrick Carolan, Executive Director of Franciscan Action Network, said: “As Franciscans, our Christian faith teaches us that we must recognize each person as a gift from God. We must emphasize the importance of the essential humanity and dignity of each person. Pope Francis has called on us to ‘meddle in politics’ and we interpret this concept as a requirement that all Americans must have an equal say in the public square. We applaud the House passage of H.R. 4 and we call on the Senate to immediately take up the Voting Rights Advancement Act to ensure that all Americans have equal access at the ballot box.”

Jonathan L. Butler, the Democracy Campaign Lead from Greenpeace, said: “The House passage of H.R. 4 (the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019) is a crucial step in restoring the Voting Rights Act and the fight for people and the planet. Voter suppression undermines our democracy and has a devastating impact on low income and communities of color that support strong actions to address climate change, contaminated drinking water, and other urgent environmental crises. Protecting people’s right to vote is essential to enacting strong environmental policies and safeguarding the air we breathe, water we drink, and the land we live on.”

Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said: “Since the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder, discriminatory policies impacting voters have proliferated nationwide.  This record of discrimination has been well documented by Congress over the last several months and shows the need for action. The passage of H.R. 4 in the House of Representatives today brings us one step closer to restoring the Voting Rights Act and undoing the tremendous damage of Shelby. We commend the House for passing this critical legislation and urge Majority Leader McConnell to bring it up for a vote in the Senate. The VRAA is too important – and the right to vote is too fundamental — to end up buried in the McConnell legislative graveyard.”

Justin Kwasa, Voting Rights Program Director at League of Conservation Voters (LCV), said: “When black, brown and native voices are silenced by racist voter suppression, the communities that are exposed to the highest levels of toxic pollution and bear the brunt of the impacts of climate change are left powerless. Today’s passage of H.R. 4 in the House is a positive step towards a more fair and representative democracy for all, including the vulnerable communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. We urge the Senate to follow suit and restore the Voting Rights Act because a free, fair and equitable political process is essential to advancing protections that are critical to our health, our environment and future generations.”

Virginia Kase, CEO of the League of Women Voters of the United States CEO, said: “The Senate must pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore our ability to mitigate racial discrimination in our elections. Now is the time to get this done ahead of next year’s critical election year so that we can have free and fair elections that build the representative democracy America deserves.”

Amanda Ballantyne, Executive Director of Main Street Alliance, said: “From consolidation and monopolization to giant corporations not paying their fair share of taxes, small businesses are being squeezed in the marketplace and cut out of government support and access to capital. Without a functional democracy in which everyone is included, heard, and represented, we cannot make real progress on important civil and human rights issues, including discrimination in small business lending and other economic issues. The House must pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) for the protection of our democracy and a healthy small business economy.”

Jody Rabhan, Chief Policy Officer of the National Council of Jewish Women, said: “Throughout our history, the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) has educated and engaged our advocates and supporters to drive voter turnout and expand voting rights, including advocating for women’s suffrage and the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). This work is in pursuit of tzedek, or justice — a core value of Judaism and an inspiration for our advocacy. All eligible voters must have an opportunity to participate in the electoral process. Without access to the ballot, we can’t elect lawmakers who represent our communities and our needs. Congress has the power and responsibility to ensure that every eligible person can cast a ballot by passing H.R. 4.”

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, said: “Denying the right to vote in a democracy is dehumanizing and should never be tolerated.  People of faith have waited impatiently for 6 years as voter suppression tactics have increased across the country and with each election cycle.  By passing the VRAA today, the House affirmed the crucial role of the Federal Government in overseeing elections and enforcing the right to vote.  It’s time for Leader McConnell to end his legislative version of voter suppression and allow his colleagues to debate and vote on this crucial bill.  Our country needs moral leadership, not those who cling to power at any cost.”

Marge Baker, Executive Vice President for Policy and Program for People For the American Way, said:  “We will never know the true numbers of Americans who have been disenfranchised by voter suppression measures that exploded in the wake of Shelby County.  We applaud House passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act as a way to remedy this terrible wrong.”

Alex Morgan, Executive Director of Progressive Turnout Project, said: “Progressive Turnout Project will be mobilizing our 3.4 million supporters to put pressure on Senate Republicans to do their jobs and pass H.R.4. With less than a year to go before the 2020 election, we must take action now to restore voting rights and safeguard our democracy. Without H.R. 4, we can’t guarantee free, fair elections for voters anywhere in the country.”

Lisa Gilbert, Vice President of Legislative Affairs for Public Citizen, said: “Passage of H.R. 4 is a critical step. It sends the long-sought signal that lawmakers intend to do something about immoral voting rights attacks against Americans. Over the last six years, numerous state legislatures have undertaken targeted and deliberate steps to limit or impede the right to vote for communities of color, students, the elderly and people with disabilities. Americans who are eligible to vote but are denied that right due to fabricated or illegal barriers are being deprived of the full privilege of our democracy. Voting in elections is at the core of our democracy, and today’s House vote is a message to the U.S. Senate and Leader McConnell that the people’s right to franchise will no longer yield to voter suppression.”

Mary Kay Henry, President of SEIU International, said: “SEIU members applaud the Members of Congress who voted in support of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act. This bill will put our country on a path to addressing the damage done to our election system by the surge of voter suppression laws that followed the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby vs. Holder decision. SEIU members know the same politicians attempting to make it harder for working people to vote are the same ones who are using their influence to make it harder for us to join unions while keeping power in the hands of corporations and billionaires. The VRAA is a solid step forward in unrigging our democracy and economy. When we ensure the voices of all working people—Black, white & brown—are heard at the ballot box, we can also ensure they are also heard in the workplace.”

Courtney Hight, Director of the Sierra Club’s Democracy Program, said: “The Sierra Club applauds House Democratic leadership for taking a stand for voting rights and the bedrock of our democracy. We need a fully fair and functioning election system that enables all Americans — regardless of their race, where they live, or how much money they make —  to voice their opinions on the issues they care most about, which means ensuring that every eligible voter has the opportunity to fairly choose who represents their communities at the local, state, and federal level. Voting and our democracy must transcend partisan politics, and the Senate must pass this bill as soon as possible.”

Sean Eldridge, President and Founder of Stand Up America, said: “Voting is the lifeblood of our democracy—and, in passing H.R. 4, House Democrats are doing everything they can to restore the right to vote for millions of Americans. This critical bill, should it be signed into law, would not only help undo the discriminatory mechanisms that lead to the election of representatives who do not act in the best interests of their constituents, but will also re-empower people across the country to turn their voices into votes and participate in our electoral process. While Senate Republicans have stymied the legislative progress made by House Democrats this session, we implore Leader McConnell to immediately bring this bill to a vote in the Senate. Failing to do so sends a clear message to the American people that Senate Republicans are seeking to suppress voters’ rights and willfully uphold discriminatory voting practices.”