WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, the historic Virginia Voting Rights Act went into effect. The legislation, passed by the Democratic majorities in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates and signed by a Democratic governor, restores key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that were gutted on a nationwide level by the U.S. Supreme Court. The law:
- Establishes early voting on Sundays.
- Provides pre-paid postage on all mail-in ballots.
- Bans at-large local elections if they dilute the voting power of minority populations.
- Requires local authorities to provide voting materials in multiple languages when needed.
- And much more.
Virginia is the first state in the South to pass its own Voting Rights Act. Democratic lawmakers celebrated the occasion, calling it a new day in Virginia. The law went into effect the same day the Supreme Court dealt a blow to the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2013, a fact that Virginia officials recognized. “For more than six decades, the Supreme Court could be counted on as a reliable partner in protecting Americans’ fundamental voting rights, but not anymore,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) in a statement. “It is so important that the Commonwealth now has its own Voting Rights Act in place to protect Virginians’ fundamental right to vote and prevent any kind of discriminatory conduct.”