The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) applauds the House of Representatives on today’s passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) and urges the Senate to follow suit as soon as possible. As an historic civil rights organization, JCPA has actively supported voting rights and worked to maximize voter enfranchisement since its founding in 1944.
In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a critical Voting Rights Act provision that required states with a history of disenfranchising voters to obtain Department of Justice preclearance before changing voting laws or procedures. Since this ruling, many states have enacted – and are continuing to propose laws that suppress the vote, targeting low-income communities and communities of color. At this very moment, around the country, over 43 states are moving to enact new voter suppression laws not seen since the Jim Crow era. This is both a civil rights and a racial justice issue – and a Jewish concern to its core.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore this enforcement measure, helping to protect the freedom to vote for communities of color across the nation and ensure that all Americans have the same opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
“The bedrock of our democracy is the freedom to cast a ballot and have that ballot counted,” said David Bohm, Chair of JCPA. “However, the systematic disenfranchisement of key segments of the voting population challenges the integrity of the elections process and undermines our democracy. Achieving a government that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of all its people is possible only through maximum citizen participation in the electoral process.” JCPA’s history includes extensive educational, legal, and legislative campaigns for voting rights alongside partners in the Black community, and we continue that legacy today, including through the recent passage of resolutions on Expanding Voter Access (2021) and Voting Rights and Elections During a Public Health Crisis (2020).
The Voting Rights Act has always had bipartisan support. Congress has reauthorized the Voting Rights Act several times under both Republican and Democratic administrations with near unanimous support. Safeguarding democracy is not a partisan issue.