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Today, civil and voting rights groups praised members of the Senate Elections Committee for voting to move the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York (NYVRA / S1046B) out of committee, setting the stage for passage in the full Senate where the legislation enjoys majority support.
At the same time, 72 organizations representing more than 650,000 members and supporters in New York sent a letter to Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Heastie urging enactment of the NYVRA this legislative session, which closes June 2nd.
“Strong leadership from Senator Myrie and his colleagues in the Senate Elections Committee have put the NYVRA on track to become the strongest state voting rights act in the country,” said Lurie Daniel-Favors, Executive Director of the Center for Law & Social Justice. “We look forward to the Assembly moving the NYVRA forward in the coming days.”
The groups pointed to New York’s troubling history of voting discrimination, and highlighted the NYVRA as a key opportunity for the state to continue its journey from “worst to first” on voting. According to the letter to New York’s leadership, “Recent reforms have brought New York closer to becoming an inclusive, multi-racial democracy, but voters of color in the Empire State still face discrimination. There are still persistent barriers to equal participation for New York’s voters of color and people whose first language is not English, particularly at the local level.”
“As voting rights are under constant threat across the country, New York has the opportunity to lead by advancing stronger protections for voters,” said LDF Policy Counsel Steven Lance. “That’s why the NYVRA is a top priority for dozens of organizations representing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.”
The organizations noted that Assembly Elections Committee chair Latrice Walker has been a strong champion of the NYVRA and that co-sponsorship has quadrupled in the Assembly in 2022.
“New York’s voters of color are demanding strong protections, the Senate is moving forward, and the Assembly’s moment to lead is here,” said Derek Perkinson, NAN NYS Field Director & Crisis Director. “With just three weeks left in the session, we cannot afford any delay–let’s move the NYVRA now.”
“With federal voting rights legislation still stuck behind a Senate filibuster in Washington, it is imperative for the state of New York to pass and enact the NYVRA to bolster democracy in the Empire State and protect its residents’ right to vote before the end of the legislative session,” said Christina Harvey, Executive Director of Stand Up America. “This is a moment for New York to stand out front and show the nation leadership on voting rights by passing the strongest state-level voting rights act to date. We urge full passage of the NYVRA in both chambers as soon as possible.”
For more information about the NYVRA, see this fact sheet (available in multiple languages here) and this white paper.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.