Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Garamendi Cosponsors Legislation to Restore Voting Rights and Releases Video Honoring Black History Month

February 13, 2015
Press Release

Click here to watch video of Congressman Garamendi speaking about Black History Month, the Civil Rights Movement, and voting rights.

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) announced that he cosponsored H.R. 885, the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015 and H.R. 411, the SIMPLE Voting Act. These co-sponsorships coincide with celebrations of Black History Month, which reminds our nation of the hard-fought struggle for civil rights.

“The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015 would prevent this sacrosanct right from being abridged. I am pleased that Democrats and Republicans have come together to introduce this legislation. I urge House Leadership to continue the strong bipartisan tradition of Voting Rights Act reauthorizations by bringing this bill to the floor without delay,” said Congressman Garamendi. “The SIMPLE Voting Act would help ensure that no American has to wait in line for several hours just to cast his or her ballot – lines that often present another type of voter suppression. Collectively, these bills would better safeguard our right to vote.”

The bipartisan Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015 was introduced in response to the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision which struck down Section 4b, the core provision in the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 that determines how states are covered under Section 5 of the Act (which requires federal preclearance of voting changes by covered jurisdictions to protect against discriminatory voting methods).The bill updates the coverage formula by making all states and jurisdictions eligible for the coverage formula based on voting violations in the last 15 years.

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law in August of 1965, and it has been reauthorized four times since.  President George W. Bush signed the most recent reauthorization into law in 2006, after the House voted 390-33 and the Senate 98-0 in favor of the legislation.

An outline of the legislation can be found here, and text of legislation can be found here.

Key provisions in the bill include:

  • Through a coverage provision based on current conditions, the bill would require states or jurisdictions that have a persistent record of recent voting rights violations over the last 15 years to abide by strong preclearance voter protection standards.
  • Allows our federal courts to add the worst actors to the list of those who must abide by preclearance voter protection standards. The current law permits states or jurisdictions to be required for preclearance for intentional violations, but the new legislation amends the Act to allow states or jurisdictions to have preclearance for results-based violations.
  • Greater transparency in elections so that voters are made aware of changes. The additional sunlight will deter discrimination from occurring and protect voters from discrimination.
  • Allows for preliminary relief to be obtained more readily, given that voting rights cannot often be vindicated after an election is already over.

The SIMPLE Voting Act would protect the right to vote by: 1) providing for at least 15 days of early voting in every state, and 2) requiring that states provide adequate poll workers, machines and other resources to ensure that voters do not wait in line more than one hour to vote. It would also strengthen enforcement of these rights to ensure that states comply with the bill’s provisions. A summary of the bill is located here.

A video of the Congressman commemorating Black History Month and speaking on the importance of voting rights is located here.