John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA): The Time is Now

Feb 29, 2024

By Mel Wilson, MBA, LCSW – NASW Senior Policy Adviser

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) applauds the reintroduction of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) by Maryland Democratic Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin. It is without a doubt that in this critical election year, the time is now for the passage of this important legislation.

Moreover, the right to vote is foundational and protects rights and freedoms of all Americans. As an organization dedicated to protecting human and civil rights, NASW knows the pathway to meaningful societal change is often through the ballot.

A photo of the Edmund Pettus  Bridge where Bloody Monday occurred.

The Edmund Pettus Bridge where the Bloody Sunday protest occurred.

That the bill is being reintroduced on the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma reinforces the urgency of having strong voter protections. This is especially important at a time when voting rights are under attack with an ever-growing intensity and ferocity. All of which alerts us to the fact that our decades-long struggle for full and equal access to the ballot continues, and we must revolt against the barriers placed in our way.

For democracy to work for all of us, it must include us all, no matter our race, ethnicity, language, or ability. We are heartened that the VRAA will restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act. The bill will repair damage done by the Supreme Court and modernizing the most successful civil rights law in history.

For those reasons, the voting rights community, including NASW, must remain vigilant, organized, mobilized and active in fighting for voter protection. The 2024 election is important on a historical level, and we must respond accordingly to forces that attempt to impede unencumbered access to the ballot.

The Voting Rights Act has a long history of bipartisan support. It is the obligation of this generation of lawmakers to respond to the call of most Americans who support legislation to protect the vote. VRAA does just that.

We urge Members of Congress to fulfill their obligations to protect the freedom to vote by passing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act as well as the Freedom to Vote Act and the Native American Voting Rights Act. Together, these laws will help ensure everyone can fully participate in democracy and make their voices heard.

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