Crist Vote Protects the Right to Vote

Today, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) voted to pass H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore critical protections from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to ensure the people’s right to vote is not infringed.

An original cosponsor of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Congressman Crist has vigorously advocated for the passage of this crucial legislation, including leading a letter in March following attempts by Florida's Governor and Legislature to make voting more difficult for working Floridians, students, and seniors. H.R. 4 would prevent states and localities with a recent history of voter discrimination from restricting the right to vote by requiring these jurisdictions to obtain a federal pre-clearance before changing their voting laws. H.R. 4 passed in the House of Representatives today by a vote of 219-212.

“Unfortunately, voter suppression is alive and well in many parts of the country, including my beloved home state of Florida,” said Crist. "As states across the country pass discriminatory laws to suppress the vote, such as S.B. 90 in Florida, the need to restore federal oversight is urgent. I am proud that today we took the crucial steps necessary to restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by passing H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This bill honors the legacy of my friend John Lewis, and all those who fought and bled for the right to vote.”


For decades, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) prevented states and localities from restricting the right to vote. However, in its disastrous Shelby County v. Holder decision in 2013, the Supreme Court gutted the civil rights law, invalidating Section 4 and striking down the formula used to determine which jurisdictions are subject to federal oversight. In July 2021, the Court further weakened the law in its decision in Brnovich v. DNC which made it more difficult to challenge discriminatory voting laws under Section 2.


Since 2013, there has been a steady increase in the number of restrictive voting laws that disproportionately suppress turnout among minorities, young adults, and the elderly. This accelerated in 2021 after President Trump created the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen. Just this year, 18 states have enacted at least 30 laws to restrict access to the vote.


Named for the late Congressman and civil rights icon John Robert Lewis, H.R. 4 restores Section 4 of the VRA by establishing a modern-day formula that requires states and localities with a recent history of voter discrimination to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Justice before making changes to their voting laws. 


For areas to qualify for judicial pre-clearance, they must have the following qualifications:


  • States with a history of 15 or more violations at any level in the previous 25 years
  • States with a history of 10 or more violations, if one violation occurs at the state level in the previous 25 years
  • Subdivisions with 3 or more violations in the subdivision in the previous 25 year

H.R. 4 also restores Section 2 of the VRA by eliminating the heightened standard created by the Supreme Court in Brnovich v. DNC.


The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act also:

  • Allows federal courts to immediately halt questionable voting practices until a final ruling is made. This provision recognizes that when voting rights are at stake, prohibiting a discriminatory practice after the election has concluded is too late to truly protect voters' rights.
  • Gives the Attorney General authority to request that federal observers be present anywhere in the country where discriminatory voting practices pose a serious threat.
  • Increases transparency by requiring reasonable public notice for voting changes.
  • Includes a retrogression standard for already-enacted but not-yet-implemented measures.
  • Helps plaintiffs to seek injunctive relief for voting rights violations in the lead-up to an election. 
  • Establishes a grant program for small jurisdictions to help them comply with the bill’s various notice requirements. 
The full text of H.R. 4 can be found here.

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