The New York State Assembly on Thursday joined the Senate in passing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act (VRA) of New York.
“For as long as our country has existed, there have been those who seek to restrict voting and diminish democracy. Today, New York is taking a stand,” said Sen. Zellnor Y. Myrie (D-Central Brooklyn. “We will always be a pro-voter state, and our laws must reflect that.
“The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York will enact the strongest, most comprehensive voter protections of any state in the country, and will set the standard for all other states that care about fair elections and equal access to the ballot,” added Myrie, representative for the 20th Senate District.”
Myie, whose grandmother hailed from Jamaica, said he was “grateful to my partner Assembly Elections Chair, Latrice M. Walker, along with the countless voters and advocates who have supported this bill from the beginning.
“I look forward to Gov. Hochul signing it into law,” he said. “New York has always led the way, and, by passing the VRA, we are proving that our democracy is strongest when voting rights are protected.”
Myrei said the VRA, named in tribute to John R. Lewis, former US congressman, will “enact the strongest voter protections of any state in the country and provide legal recourse for voters whose rights are denied or abridged.
“With the federal government increasingly unable to advance voting rights, states must step into the void, and I’m incredibly proud the Senate has passed the VRA,” Myrie continued. “Make no mistake: democracy is on the line, but New York voters should know that your government will always defend and strengthen your right to participate and be heard.”
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York establishes rights of actions for denying or abridging the right of any member of a protected class to vote, provides assistance to language-minority groups, provides for preclearance of certain voting policies and makes related provisions.
Myrie said the purpose of the act is to encourage participation in the elective franchise by all eligible voters to the maximum extent; and to ensure that eligible voters who are members of racial, ethnic and language-minority groups “shall have an equal opportunity to participate in the political processes of the State of New York, and especially to exercise the elective franchise.”
He said the act is also aimed at improving the quality and availability of demographic and election data, and to protect eligible voters against intimidation and deceptive practices.