This year, we were reminded of an important lesson: Even with Trump out of office, we can’t always depend on our federal government to protect our most basic rights.
Right now, our federal government is clearly unable to do what’s needed to protect our voting rights, so it’s time for New Yorkers to take matters into our own hands. We have an opportunity to pass our own John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act right here in New York to protect our communities from this national wave of racist voter suppression.
While we’ve made important strides to protect and expand the right to vote—including restoring the rights of returning citizens and automatically registering voters when they interact with some state agencies—we still have a long way to go to ensure that every New Yorker has equal access to the ballot.
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York (S1046/A6678) would make our state a national leader in protecting voting rights and combatting voter discrimination by:
- Expanding language assistance to ensure voting access for New York’s diverse communities;
- Creating a preclearance program to ensure proposed changes to voting rules aren’t discriminatory;
- Providing stronger legal tools to fight racist voter suppression when it happens; and
- Protecting all New Yorkers against voter intimidation, deception, or obstruction.
Voting across New York State is still a challenge for far too many: the lines are long, people don’t always have the language resources they need, and polling places can be difficult to get to. That’s why, while other states restrict their citizens’ right to vote, we have to seize the opportunity to protect and expand it here in the Empire State.