Congressman Serrano Co-Sponsors Voter Empowerment Act
Washington, DC – Last week, Congressman José E. Serrano joined Congressmen John Lewis, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, James Clyburn, John Conyers, and Robert Brady in introducing the Voter Empowerment Act (VEA) as an original co-sponsor. The VEA, which was co-sponsored by more than 170 House Democrats, will modernize our country’s voting registration system to ensure every eligible voter has equal rights and equal access to the ballot box. The VEA has three main components: improving access, protecting the integrity, and ensuring accountability in the electoral process. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York will introduce similar legislation in the Senate.
“Fifty years after Bloody Sunday and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we find ourselves revisiting old battles and fighting new efforts to restrict access to the ballot box. The Voter Empowerment Act is the most comprehensive voting rights and election administration legislation in Congress, and with it we reaffirm our commitment to protecting American’s constitutional right to vote and the integrity of our elections,” said Congressman Serrano.
Since 2010, new measures that make it more difficult for millions of Americans to vote have been adopted in twenty-two states. These measures make it particularly harder for seniors, students, low-income people, disabled individuals, and those who speak English as a second language to exercise their right to vote. Making matters worse, in June of 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in Shelby County v. Holder that prevented certain states with a history of racial discrimination in voting from making any election changes without running them first by the Department of Justice.
“The Voter Empowerment Act aims to modernize America’s voting system by taking advantage of existing technology, extending the early voting period, prohibiting deceptive practices and voter intimidation, and making voter registration easier by expanding the registration period and the methods used to register voters. The bill also sets polling place standards, provide training for poll workers, and establish a process to verify ballots to prevent voter fraud. As a longtime supporter of efforts to ensure every eligible American can vote, I am very proud to support a bill that protects a right that is “the crown jewel of American liberties” and at the very foundation of our democratic system. I urge Republicans to reject efforts to keep eligible Americans from voting and join us in passing this important legislation,” he added.
Congressman José E. Serrano has represented The Bronx in Congress since 1990.