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LATINO CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS DEMAND NEW YORK PASS THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE

March 9,  2022

Press contacts:
Carolina González | Senior Director of Strategic Communication| [email protected] |  212-739-7513
Sarai Bejarano | Manager of Traditional & Digital Media | [email protected] | 212-739-7581

LATINO CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS DEMAND NEW YORK PASS THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT
Nation's Strongest Voting Rights Bill Gains Momentum

ALBANY— On Wednesday, March 9th, 2022 Latino civil rights leaders along with State Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Senate Elections Committee joined forces to call for immediate passage of the John R. Lewis New York Voting Rights Act (S.1046-A / A.6678-A). The bill is currently before the Legislature and was included as a priority in Governor Hochul's State of the State Address earlier this year.

"The John R. Lewis New York VRA will provide the strongest voter protections in the nation- including for Latino voters in every corner of our state," said Senator Myrie, lead Senate sponsor of the legislation. "Voter intimidation, language barriers and vote dilution have long put voters of color and non-English speakers at a disadvantage. The VRA will help ensure all of New York's eligible voters can participate in our democracy."

"New York is one of the most diverse states in the country and there are an increasing number of our neighbors who aren't proficient in English. The New York Voting Rights Act would make sure people get the language assistance they need while exercising their right to vote. It's one of many provisions of the bill that also fights voter suppression, voter intimidation and voter dilution -- especially among Black and Latino voters. Let’s make voting easy, efficient and accessible for every eligible voter.” said Assembly Member Latrice M. Walker (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Assembly Election Law Committee and lead Assembly sponsor of the bill.

“As a greater number of Latinos and immigrants call New York their home, we need to ensure that their right to vote, as well as the right of all New Yorkers to vote, is protected. For so many immigrants, the freedoms associated with the right to vote are what brought them here. It is imperative that we pass the New York Voting Rights Act to not only assist with language access, but to also prevent voter suppression and intimidation that is so prevalent in other parts of the country,” said Assembly Member Catalina Cruz (D-Queens).

“Across the country, we are seeing certain states pass voter suppression legislation that has significantly impacted Hispanics and people of color," said Assembly Member Kenny Burgos (D-Bronx). "While passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act can address these issues at the federal level, Congress has not acted. However, New York State has the opportunity to expand and protect access to the ballot box by passing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York. The right to vote is sacred and your most powerful voice. We will protect that right on behalf of all New Yorkers.”

"Voter intimidation and suppression disproportionately impacts Latino voters," said Assembly Member Yudelka Tapia (D-Bronx). The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act will make sure Latino communities and all New Yorkers have access to the protections they need to have their votes count and be counted. I look forward to supporting this important bill and standing up for voting rights."

"Everyone deserves the right to a fair voting process and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York protects that. Historically, the Black, Asian and Latino communities have faced incredible systematic hurdles in our experience with political participation. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York will strengthen our democracy by ensuring fair practices, protections against voter intimidation, and the ability for every voice to be heard," said Eddie Cuesta, Executive Director at DominicanosUSA (DUSA).

“The John Lewis New York Voting Rights Act, represents an opportunity to expand and build upon our commitment to an inclusive democracy by securing historic protections which will make a tangible difference in the lives of our community members," said Cesar Z. Ruiz, Equal Justice Works Fellow. "Latinos will benefit immensely from its strong language access and preclearance provisions that double down on protecting the most marginalized among us. We stand firmly behind the John Lewis New York Voting Rights Act recognizing that the time to stand for democracy is now. Together we shall continue on. Palante Siempre Palante.”

"The passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York is a crucial step towards securing the voting rights of all New Yorkers. While other states have passed voter restriction measures thanks to the inability of the U.S. Congress to pass voter protection laws, it's heartening to see New York stand on the right side of history. We support passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York and call on the state legislature to turn this bill into law," said Frederick Velez, National Director of Civic Engagement for the Hispanic Federation.

Background on the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act:
Despite many recent improvements, New York has a legacy of voter discrimination and disenfranchisement— especially for voters of color and people whose first language is not English. The federal Voting Rights Act has been weakened by the US Supreme Court, and states across the country are working to limit voting rights. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act would enshrine the nation's strongest voter protections in state law, by:

Expanding language assistance for voters with limited English proficiency. The bill would extend Spanish-language assistance to approximately 80 political subdivisions covered by 29 county boards of elections, including many locations where translation assistance is not currently required by law.

Launching a “preclearance” program that puts the burden on local governments with records of discrimination to prove that certain voting changes won’t harm voters of color before they can go into effect.

Providing new legal tools to fight discriminatory voting rules in court.

Creating strong protections against voter intimidation, deception, or obstruction.

Instructing state judges to interpret election laws in a pro-voter way whenever possible. 

Creating a central hub for election data and demographic information that will empower officials and community members to ensure accessible elections.

 

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LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For nearly 50 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout the country. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.LatinoJustice.org.