Alabama Rep. plans to reintroduce bill to restore Voting Rights Act

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Representative Terri Sewell (D-AL) speaks during a press conference about voting rights legislation on Capitol Hill on June 26, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

(WHNT) — Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell said she plans to reintroduce her bill to “restore” the Voting Rights Act.

Sewell, who is Alabama’s lone Democratic representative in Congress, originally proposed the bill in 2019. At that time, it passed the U.S. House of Representatives but never passed the Senate.

On August 6, which was also the 56th anniversary of the original Voting Rights Act of 1965, Sewell said, “Old battles have become new again, and congressional action is once again required to safeguard the sacred right to vote for generations to come.”

“Luckily, we have a solution,” Sewell stated. “My bill, H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that were gutted by the Supreme Court.”

The 2019 effort was renamed by lead sponsor U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) last year after the death of civil rights icon and Georgia congressman John R. Lewis.

According to Sewell, the updated bill would aim at combatting efforts that restrict the right to vote and establish federal oversight for states and jurisdictions with a “recent history of voter discrimination.”

The landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 was originally passed during the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson in an effort to prohibit racial discrimination in voting.

In 2013 in Shelby County vs. Holder, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down certain portions of the act, notably the provisions requiring certain states and municipalities to receive federal preclearance before changing voting laws and another that determined which areas were subject to preclearance based on their history of voting discrimination.

“The need for federal legislation to protect the right to vote has never been so urgent,” Sewell concluded. “Our democracy is at stake. Restoring the Voting Rights Act must be our top priority in Congress.”

Sewell said she plans to introduce the bill in the coming weeks. View her full statement here.

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