WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement on the House of Representatives’ passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (H.R. 4):
“There is no single right more important today than the right to have a voice in our democracy. More than 50 years ago, the Voting Rights Act was passed to ensure that people have that right, and to protect the sacred practice of voting by making sure every person can vote and every vote is counted. The spirit of the VRA has always been clear: to recognize that a vote is an expression of power and an opportunity to participate in the practice of democracy by exercising your free will and choice.
“Over the years, these rights have been systematically stifled and eroded in a deliberate attempt to suppress the vote and silence the voice of far too many Americans. While poll taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses are technically illegal, the modern-day disenfranchisement of black and brown and low-income voters is more deliberate than ever: Look no further than the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which allowed the purging of hundreds of thousands of people from voting rolls across the country, or the stolen election in the 2018 Georgia governor’s race, to see just how dire the crisis in voting rights truly is.
“Election Day will be far too late to deal with voter protection. Thankfully, H.R. 4 creates a new coverage formula that applies to all states, looking for the places that have endured the worst voting rights violations, and establishes a targeted process for reviewing voting changes in jurisdictions nationwide. By passing this bill, the House of Representatives is taking action to protect the most fundamental right of a government that is meant to be of, by and for the people. A true democracy lifts all voices—even voices of dissent—which is precisely the promise of protecting and counting every vote. The Senate has a civic responsibility and should act quickly to restore our democratic values too.”