(Richmond, Va.) – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam approved the Voting Rights Act of Virginia Wednesday, enacting important legislation that will ensure voters from all communities in the commonwealth have equal access to the ballot box. The legislation provides vital protections for Virginia voters, particularly at a time when the federal Voting Rights Act has still not been reauthorized. The following is a statement from Marcia Johnson-Blanco, co-director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:
“The passage of the Voting Rights Act of Virginia is a welcome victory for civil rights statewide, but most importantly, for communities of color who are the frequent targets of voter suppression campaigns. Now, all commonwealth communities, no matter their racial and ethnic demographics, have an equal opportunity to cast their vote and have their voices heard.
“The Voting Rights Act of Virginia shows just how far a state with roots from the darkest days of racism in this country can come, and will be a model for the entire nation. As our nation continues its reckoning with structural racism and systemic inequality, we hope that other states will follow suit and expand voting rights protections so communities who have been traditionally disenfranchised will no longer have to worry about egregious barriers to the ballot box. This legislation stands in stark contrast to the regressive bills that have been adopted and proposed in other states that will make it more difficult for people to vote.”
The legislation gives the Virginia Attorney General preclearance review of any voting change throughout the state, and will also prevent discriminatory redistricting plans. Virginia has already enacted important legislation to repeal discriminatory voter ID requirements, expand early voting and implement automatic voter registrations.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.