New York Legislature Passes State-level Voting Rights Act

UPDATE: On Monday, June 20, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York into law.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On June 2, the New York Legislature passed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York (NYVRA), a state-level bill to protect and expand voting access. The NYVRA, Senate Bill 1046E, passed the state Senate and Assembly during the final week of the 2022 legislative session. The centerpiece of the bill would restore important legal protections that mirror the section of the federal Voting Rights Act gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. The NYVRA would create a “preclearance” scheme that requires certain jursidications with histories of discriminatory voting practices to get approval from the state attorney general’s Civil Rights Bureau before new changes go into effect. This would establish the first state-level preclearance program in the country.

Additionally, the NYVRA outlines legal tools and remedies for individuals to fight against discrimination in court if the right to vote for protected groups is violated. The NYVRA expands language access for voters and adds protections against voter intimidation. 

“John Lewis said that to preserve democracy, ‘each generation must do its part.’ By adopting the strongest voter protection law of any state in the country, today the Senate Majority is doing its part,” said state Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D), the bill’s sponsor and chair of the state Senate Elections Committee. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) to be signed into law. 

Read S.B. 1046E, the NYVRA, here.