Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Representing the 7th District of Alabama

Rep. Sewell Unveils #RestoreTheVOTE

Nov 3, 2015
Press Release

Today, Rep Terri Sewell was joined by leaders of the House Democratic Caucus as she unveiled #RestoreTheV.O.T.E, or Restore the Voices of the Excluded, a national legislative effort to mobilize support for the Voting Rights Advancement Act which restores and advances the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

As part of the #RestoreTheVOTE legislative outreach strategy, every Tuesday that Congress is in session will be called “Restoration Tuesday.” Members of Congress will wear a #RestoreTheVOTE ribbon pin, speak on the House floor about the importance of protecting voting rights, and share personal testimonials from constituents who have encountered modern day barriers to voting. Since nothing is more American than voting, the ribbon pin is red, white and blue striped and represents a visual symbol of our commitment to restore the vote!  Interested organizations and stakeholders will also participate in “Restoration Tuesday” and help mobilize support for the passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act, as well as participate on the social media.

“Today, I was proud to stand with my congressional colleagues to launch the #RestoreTheVOTE legislative strategy. This national effort will help mobilize support for the Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill that I sponsored with Reps. Judy Chu and Linda Sanchez to restore and expand federal oversight to jurisdictions which have a recent history of voter discrimination.

“As a daughter of Selma, I am painfully aware that the injustices suffered on the Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years ago have not been fully vindicated. The recent decision by the State of Alabama to close 31 DMV offices in spite of the state’s photo ID law is just one example of modern day barriers to voting that would have been precluded if federal preclearance provisions were still in effect.

“While we no longer have to count marbles in a jar or recite the names of all the counties, there are still laws and decisions that make it harder for people to vote. To restrict the ability of any American to vote is an assault on the rights of all Americans to equally participate in the electoral process.

“My hope is that by launching #RestoreTheVOTE we gain grassroots support for restoring the right of every American to vote. In order to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act we must get everyday Americans to care and demand congressional action to protect voting rights. We cannot silence ANY voices within our electorate.  We must RESTORE THE V.O.T.E. — the VOICES OF THE EXCLUDED!”

A video of today’s press conference is available online:

Background Information on the Voting Rights Advancement Act  (HR 2867)

Joining Congresswoman Sewell as lead sponsors of House bill include Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (CA-38), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.  Congressman John Lewis signed on as an original co-sponsor. Senators Patrick Leahy (VT), Dick Durbin (IL) and Chris Coons (DE) introduced a companion Senate bill.

Under the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, federal protections will extend to all voters nationwide.  The legislation targets certain voting practices known to suppress the voting rights of minorities and the disabled.  The bill is the result of collaboration with those at the grassroots who have witnessed the harmful effects discriminatory voting laws have had in their communities.

Key Provisions of the Bill Include:

  • A new geographic coverage formula that is based on current conditions that includes 13 states: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Arizona, California, New York and Virginia. The bill establishes a “rolling” nationwide trigger that continuously moves so that only states that have a recent record of racial discrimination in voting would be covered. 
  • Allows federal courts to bail in states for preclearance based on discriminatory results not only intentional violation.  Current law permits states or jurisdictions to be bailed in if an intentional violation can be shown.  The new legislation offers more protection by allowing a court to bail in states or jurisdictions whose voting practices have discriminatory results.
  • Greater transparency in federal elections to ensure that voters are made aware of late-breaking changes in voting procedures.  The additional sunlight will deter discrimination from occurring and protect voters from discrimination.