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Gov. Hochul signs John R. Lewis voting rights act into law

The legislation aims to encourage participation in voting by "ensuring that barriers to accessing the polls are removed."

NEW YORK — On Monday, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the John. R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York (S.1046-E/A.6678-E) into law.

"At a time when the very foundation of our democracy is under threat, New York is leading the nation with new laws protecting the fundamental right to vote," Hochul said. 

"Today, we honor the work of the late Congressman John Lewis and activists like Medgar Evers as we make meaningful changes to our laws that enfranchise voters and ensure the voices of the people are heard in our democracy. Where the federal government fails to act, New York will continue to step up and lead the way: we did it with abortion protections, we did it with gun safety reforms, and I'm so proud to say we are doing it again with voting rights."

The legislation aims to encourage participation in voting by "ensuring that barriers to accessing the polls are removed."

The Governor's Office says it will do so by addressing:

  • Voter Dilution. Prohibits methods of an election that eliminate the voting strength of a protected class and establishes legal protections for violations.
  • Voter Suppression. Prohibits election-related laws and practices from being implemented in ways that deny members of a protected class the right to vote and establishes legal protections for violations.
  • Voter Intimidation, Deception or Obstruction. Prohibits acts of intimidation, deception, or obstruction that impact the ability of New Yorkers to access their right to vote and establishes legal protections for violations.
  • Expanded Language Assistance. Requires election-related language assistance beyond what is required by the federal Voting Rights Act.
  • Preclearance. Establishes a state analog to the now dormant "section 5 preclearance" of the federal Voting Rights Act, requiring covered jurisdictions to "preclear" any changes to certain important election-related laws and policies before they can implement them. Under the new law, covered jurisdictions seeking to make a change to a range of election measures will first need to have those changes reviewed to ensure they will not violate the voting rights of a protected class. Covered jurisdictions are those with a history of civil or voting rights violations.

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