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Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander Groups Strongly Support the Reintroduction of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

WASHINGTON, DC —Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote), the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, and the undersigned organizations from the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community applaud Senators Durbin and Warnock for reintroducing S. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (JLVRAA) in the Senate on February 29, 2024.

We are eager to work with Congress to pass this vital piece of legislation that will bolster the historic Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 and ensure AANHPI and other historically marginalized communities will have the ability to freely and fairly cast their ballots. The JLVRAA would restore many of the powers originally in the VRA, including the requirement that jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination get pre-approval – referred to as “preclearance” – of changes to their voting laws to ensure that those changes are not discriminatory. Last year, many state legislatures passed restrictive voting laws at a near record pace thus modernizing the VRA is crucial in protecting our democracy.

“For too long, AANHPIs have been left out of the decision-making process that impacts our communities’ very livelihood. Just as our communities came out and voted in historic numbers during the last presidential election in 2020, we are seeing attempts to make it harder to vote all across the country,” said Christine Chen, Executive Director of Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote). “Congress must pass the JLVRAA to ensure that no matter where in the country you live, you can be confident your freedom to vote will not be threatened by those who want to take our power away. We must continue to educate, register, and mobilize our communities to protect our democracy at the ballot box. However, our efforts are severely hampered without a robust federal backstop to protect our freedom to vote.”

“As the right to vote — a cornerstone of our democracy and tool that empowers marginalized communities — remains so consistently under attack, this legislation is vital. From providing language access at the ballot box to protection from discriminatory voting laws, voting rights legislation allows AANHPIs and other communities of color to make their voices heard,” said Gregg Orton, National Director of NCAPA. “As AANHPIs continue  to grow as a crucial voting bloc throughout the country, our experiences and right to vote matter. Now, more than ever, we need to stand together against voter suppression campaigns that aim to divide and keep us away from the ballot box. John Lewis fought tirelessly to expand voting rights and voting access, and NCAPA is honored to continue advancing his legacy by supporting the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to ensure that every American is able to cast their vote.”

“At the heart of the numerous hurdles our democracy is confronted with, lies the deprivation and dilution of the foundational right to vote, which significantly impacts Asian, Black, Latino, and Native American communities,” said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice –  Asian American Justice Center (Advancing Justice –  AAJC). “It is absolutely imperative that we address and rectify these issues to protect our democracy, which relies on the full and equal participation of every eligible voter. The John Lewis VRAA is a step toward forging a path for true inclusion of the voices and votes for all communities nationwide. During a pivotal election year, the strength of America’s democracy rests on ensuring every voice is heard. I commend the Senate for presenting this bill at such a crucial juncture in our nation’s history and urge Members of Congress to safeguard the freedom to vote by passing this legislation. Advancing Justice – AAJC supports the John Lewis VRAA because it embraces a forward-looking perspective for the future of our democracy.”


Endorsing organizations:

  • Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)
  • National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC
  • National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association – NAAPIMHA
  • Laotian American National Alliance
  • Japanese American Citizens League 
  • National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD)

 

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About APIAVote: Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) is the nation’s leading nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to engaging, educating, and empowering Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities to strengthen and sustain a culture of civic engagement. See our website for more information at https://www.apiavote.org/

About NCAPA: Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of forty-seven national Asian Pacific American organizations that represent the interests of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns.

About AAJC: Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC has a mission to advance the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all. Visit our website at advancingjustice-aajc.or