Murkowski Supports Legislation to Restore Voting Rights Act

Senator: “Every Alaskan Deserves a Meaningful Chance to Vote”

Senator Murkowski today announced that she is co-sponsoring S. 1659, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, as the lead Republican on the bill. The legislation improves certain provisions of the original, bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 1965, which were determined to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013. Senator Murkowski explained her support for this legislation, saying:

“The Voting Rights Act of 1965 brought an end to the ugly Jim Crow period in American history. It is fundamentally important in our system of government that every American be given the opportunity to vote, regardless of who they are, where they live, and what their race or national origin may be.

“The question of whether Alaska Natives have fair access to the voting booth has been litigated multiple times over the past several years. Impediments to voting in many of our rural communities because of distance and language need to be addressed, and my hope is that this legislation will resolve these issues. Every Alaskan deserves a meaningful chance to vote.

The bill’s original sponsor, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, praised Senator Murkowski’s support, saying:

“Senator Murkowski is a champion for civil rights, and I congratulate her for becoming the first Republican Senator to cosponsor the Voting Rights Advancement Act. I have long enjoyed my bipartisan working relationship with Senator Murkowski because of her independence and leadership on so many issues.  I am honored that she has now joined me to ensure that no American faces racial discrimination at the polls.  As we celebrate the 50th anniversaries of the March on Selma and the Voting Rights Act, I hope that other Senate Republicans will join us to restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act for a new generation.”

Provisions of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 include:

  • Provides greater transparency in federal elections to ensure that voters are made aware of late-breaking changes in voting procedures and protect voters from discrimination.
  • Requires that voting materials be translated into all written Native languages, whether historically written or not.
  • Requires states to pre-clear changes in voting laws which have historically been used in various parts of the nation to discriminate against minority voters.
  • For Alaska, does not reinstate mandatory ‘across the board’ pre-clearance procedures that were in place before the Supreme Court decided Shelby County v. Holder.