Lawsuit Challenging Restoration of Voting Rights in Virginia is Undemocratic, Blatant Attempt to Suppress Ballot Access for Voters of Color - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

Lawsuit Challenging Restoration of Voting Rights in Virginia is Undemocratic, Blatant Attempt to Suppress Ballot Access for Voters of Color

General Assembly Republicans File Suit after Governor Grants Right to Vote to 206,000 Formerly Incarcerated Virginians

WASHINGTON – Today, Virginia General Assembly Republicans filed a lawsuit challenging an April 2016 proclamation issued by Governor Terry McAuliffe that automatically restored the right to vote for all persons with past felony convictions, so long as they are not in prison or on probation or parole. The 206,000 Virginians now eligible to regain the fundamental right to vote are disproportionately from communities of color historically targeted by the criminal justice system. The grassroots group New Virginia Majority and the national racial justice organization Advancement Project released the following statement in response to the lawsuit filed today:

“The disenfranchisement of people who have already served sentences for prior mistakes was an outdated, discriminatory vestige of our nation’s Jim Crow past,” said Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of The New Virginia Majority. “Instead of celebrating the progress our state has taken to restore the fundamental right to vote for the hundreds of thousands of Virginians who have repaid their debts to society, conservative lawmakers are trying to send our state back to its discriminatory past. By championing an undemocratic legal effort to limit ballot access, General Assembly Republicans are ignoring the will of the public they represent. The majority of Virginians – 63 percent – agree that Governor McAuliffe made the right decision by restoring voting rights for people with prior felony convictions. It is our leaders’ responsibility to uphold the values of an inclusive and just democracy – this lawsuit represents exactly the opposite. Virginians deserve better. Democracy demands better.”

“Laws that disenfranchise voters based on prior mistakes have deeply impacted communities of color who have been targeted by our nation’s broken criminal justice system,” said Eddie Hailes, Jr., Advancement Project general counsel and managing director. “For too long in Virginia, voters of color were disproportionately denied the right to vote by an archaic law rooted in the state’s history of white supremacy. All who believe in freedom and equality should celebrate the Governor’s efforts to restore the right to vote for the 206,000 formerly incarcerated Virginians who have rejoined their communities. Yet instead, conservative lawmakers are trying to strip away this progress. Rather than focusing on the countless benefits of restoring the right to vote – including reduced recidivism rates and the fulfillment of our democratic values – General Assembly Republicans are making it their mission to deny the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of their constituents. This undemocratic and immoral attempt to limit the voting system to the select few cannot be tolerated. Our community is strongest when our democracy is inclusive and representative.”

# # #

www.newvirginiamajority.org

New Virginia Majority is the catalytic force for the progressive transformation of Virginia through mass organizing, leadership development, and strategic communications. New Virginia Majority is creating a powerful movement that transforms Virginia by organizing communities of color, women, working people, LGBTs, youth and progressive people. Through continuous purposeful and strategic activity, New Virginia Majority will create a Virginia that is democratic, just and sustainable.

www.fsaproject.wpengine.com

Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.

KEEP READING

Hearing in Lawsuit Challenging Georgia Anti-Voting Rights Law Weighs Impact of Line Relief Restrictions

GEORGIA —  The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia will be hearing motions for a preliminary injunction in the consolidated litigation challenging SB 202 (In Re Georgia Senate Bill 202). This hearing will consider the “line relief” provision that criminalizes those who provide voters waiting in line with food and water, which disproportionately impacts communities of color in Georgia who face some of the longest waiting times at the ballot box in the country.  SB 202 creates significant barriers for Black, Latinx and other voters of color…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Condemns New Anti-Voting Rights Law in Florida that Creates Office of Election Crimes, Mandates Special Voter-Fraud Police Officers

FLORIDA – Moments ago, Governor DeSantis signed into law a bill passed by the Republican Florida legislature that claims to fight “voter fraud” by creating an Office of Election Crimes and mandating the appointment of “special” members of law enforcement.  This comes on the heels of the conclusion of a trial challenging SB 90, another anti-voting rights measure in Florida. This law was successfully challenged in court by several national and Florida civil rights and voting rights groups, including Advancement Project. Similar anti-voting rights bills…

Read More
Civil Rights Organizations Celebrate Decision in Florida Voting Rights Trial

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker released a landmark decision today in the nationally-watched voting rights trial on Florida’s SB 90 bill to strike down key provisions of the law. This restrictive voting law passed by the Republican-majority legislature and Gov. DeSantis  would have put in place new constraints on the use of drop boxes and organizations conducting voter registration drives, among other measures that would significantly hinder access to the vote for millions of state residents.

Read More
Trial Challenging Florida’s SB 90 Voter Suppression Law Begins Today

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —  A trial challenging SB 90 (League of Women Voters v Lee), a Florida measure to make it harder and in many ways impossible for Black and Brown people to vote, kicked off on Monday, Jan. 31. This is one of the first trials of the year challenging anti-voting laws at the state level. It comes just as national voting rights efforts have stalled, with the Senate recently failing to change rules on the filibuster to pass voting rights.  SB 90 was passed by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis in spring…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Statement on the Senate’s Failure to Pass Voting Rights Legislation

WASHINGTON — Last night, the Senate blocked the Freedom to Vote John R. Lewis Act from advancing to a final passage vote. In response to this, Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of the Advancement Project National Office released this statement: “Last night, all 50 Senate Republicans and two Senate Democrats voted to maintain the filibuster and block the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act from advancing to a final vote. These bills would protect voters and undo many of the barriers and restrictions that bar thousands of Black, Latinx, Asian, and…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office: “Passing voting rights legislation will protect right to free, fair, and accessible elections”

Washington, DC — In response to President Biden’s speech in Georgia today on voting rights legislation and the filibuster, Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project National Office, issued this statement: “While President Biden’s speech in Georgia today rings the alarm on voting rights, we need to put out the fire by immediately changing Senate rules on the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation.  “The urgency of this moment cannot be understated. Black voters and other voters of color need concrete action on voting rights immediately. Over 400 state-level bills undermining the right to vote were introduced last…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Applauds the Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

CONTACT Jeralyn Cave [email protected] 202-921-7321 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The legislation restores key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and helps prevent racial discrimination in voting by requiring states to obtain federal approval before enacting specific types of voting changes known to be racially discriminatory. The legislation also restores voters’ ability to challenge racial discrimination in court. Advancement Project National Office, a national racial justice and civil rights organization, released the following statement: “We applaud the efforts of the U.S.

Read More
Congress Must Combat New Wave of Voter Suppression, Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

On Monday, the U.S. House Judiciary hosted a hearing on H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA), discussing the need to restore federal oversight of elections in the wake of a new wave of voter suppression sweeping the nation.

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Statement on Brnovich v. DNC Supreme Court Case

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court further weakened the Voting Rights Act in its ruling in Brnovich v. DNC, a case challenging voting laws in Arizona that discard provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct and limit who can return absentee ballots. In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that Arizona's voting laws do not violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and its ban on ballot harvesting was not enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose. Advancement Project National Office, a 21st century racial justice organization release the following statement.

Read More
Our Democracy is in Danger, But You Can Help Save It

By Jenna Israel, Communications Intern As a young person, it often feels like there’s not a lot you can do to change a world that seems like it’s not listening to you. But for me, helping other people vote, engage their government, and make their voices heard is my activity of choice during my free time. It is empowering. One of the most heartbreaking things to hear when speaking to people in my community is that someone won’t vote. Sometimes it’s because they can’t. Maybe they’ve lost their right to vote as the result of incarceration. Or maybe they can’t…

Read More