Congressman Horsford Votes to Pass Landmark Bill to Protect the Freedom to Vote

August 24, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressman Steven Horsford (D-NV-04) voted to pass H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and protect the freedom to vote for all Americans. Congressman Horsford is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 4, which passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 219 to 212.

“Today, our nation is facing an assault on the right to vote that is more dangerous than we have seen in generations. As states enact dozens of discriminatory anti-voter laws, voters of color — and all Americans — are being robbed of their fundamental right to participate in our elections. The need to restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act has never been more urgent,” said Congressman Steven Horsford. “H.R. 4 will protect the right to vote and honor the sacrifices of all those who fought and bled for civil rights. I’m glad to see this bill pass by a wide margin in the House, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to move quickly and pass its essential protections into law.”

For nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) maintained key protections against voter discrimination and protected the fundamental freedom to vote. The VRA required localities with a history of voter discrimination to seek federal approval (or “preclearance”) before making changes to election laws. Since its passage in 1965, the Voting Rights Act was reauthorized five times under Republican and Democratic presidents, most recently in July 2006 under President George W. Bush. The reauthorization passed overwhelmingly in the House and unanimously in the Senate before being signed by President Bush. In 2013’s Shelby County v. Holder decision, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4(b) of the VRA, which outlined the process for determining which localities were required to follow the preclearance process.

While the state of Nevada has worked to make voting more accessible, the Shelby decision opened the door for states to enact discriminatory voting laws that target communities of color. This year alone, 18 states have enacted at least 30 new laws that would restrict access to the ballot and place disproportionate burdens on voters of color. On July 1, 2021, the Supreme Court upheld racially discriminatory voter restrictions in Arizona, despite evidence that these laws intentionally targeted Latino and other minority voters.

If passed by the Senate, H.R. 4 would restore the VRA, strengthen federal oversight of our elections, and ensure critical voter protections for Native Americans, naturalized citizens, and people with disabilities.

H.R. 4 would also:

  • Allow federal courts to immediately halt potentially discriminatory voting practices until a final ruling is made, proactively protecting the right to vote.
  • Give the U.S. Attorney General authority to request federal observers anywhere in the country where discriminatory voting practices pose a serious threat.
  • Require reasonable public notice for voting changes. Include a retrogression standard for already-enacted but not-yet-implemented measures.
  • Help plaintiffs seek injunctive relief for voting rights violations in the lead-up to an election.
  • Establish a grant program for small jurisdictions to help them comply with the bill’s various notice requirements.

To read a full summary of H.R. 4, click here.

The full bill text of H.R. 4 can be found here.

Earlier this year, Congressman Horsford spoke on the House floor to honor the memory of Congressman John Lewis and call for the passage of H.R. 4. A full video of his remarks can be found here.

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