February 29, 2024

STATEMENT: Institute for Responsive Government Urges Congress to Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act Reintroduced in U.S. Senate, Would Restore and Modernize Protections Against Discriminatory Voting Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, in the last week of Black History Month, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (John Lewis VRA) was reintroduced in the United States Senate by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA). The legislation would strengthen federal protections against racial discrimination in voting and restore key provisions that were struck from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v Holder.

The John Lewis VRA would modernize the criteria for detecting patterns of discrimination in election law in states and localities, make it easier for voters to challenge procedures that adversely impact voter access, and expand the federal government’s power to observe jurisdictions with high risk of discrimination at the polls during an election period. The legislation was previously reintroduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) on September 19, 2023.

“It’s been nearly 60 years since the Voting Rights Act’s passage, and yet we are still struggling to live up to our country’s promise of a truly representative democracy today,” said Sam Oliker-Friedland, executive director of the Institute for Responsive Government. “Congress should seize on the opportunity to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act as a critical, commonsense step towards upholding one of our country’s most fundamental rights – the right to vote – regardless of the color of our skin, our political affiliation, or our zip code.”

“While on the one hand we’ve seen some incredible progress made to improve voting access and elections infrastructure in the past several years, we have also seen many state legislatures craft new barriers to casting a ballot, especially in states and localities with a long track record of discriminating against people of color and other historically disenfranchised communities. Passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act shouldn’t be controversial – it would simply create the much-needed checks and balances to guarantee that every eligible American voter’s right to make their voice heard at the ballot box is protected,” Oliker-Friedland added.

To speak with Sam Oliker-Friedland about the importance of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, please contact dan@responsivegov.org.


The Institute for Responsive Government is a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to ensuring state and federal governments work effectively for the very people they serve. IRG provides data, research, and expertise to elected officials in order to find practical policy solutions that make government systems more efficient, accessible, and responsive.