The UCLA Voting Rights Project has just released to the public its Model State-level Voting Rights Act for voting rights advocates, state legislators, and others involved in the law-making process to utilize in advocating for and drafting pro-voting rights legislation in their own states. For decades, the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) has protected the right to vote across the country. Unfortunately, in 2013 the Supreme Court gutted one of the most significant portions of the VRA in Shelby County v. Holder, when it struck down the coverage formula in Section 4(b). This means that states with a history of disenfranchising voters of color no longer have to seek approval from the Department of Justice or a federal court to enact changes to their voting laws. Despite a weakened VRA, individual states have been slow to adopt legislation to guarantee the right to vote, and few states currently enshrine state level causes of action that enable individual voters or groups representing voters to challenge voting and election laws or schemes. As the right to vote faces increasing threats, it is clear that state level voting rights protections are necessary.
Legal Director Chad W. Dunn issued the following statement: “The goal of the model code is to provide states and advocates with policy options that fit best for an individual state and ensure that all voters have equal access to the ballot box. This is especially important because voters now need even more robust protections of the fundamental right to vote.”
To learn more about the code and download the code, please visit https://latino.ucla.edu/research/model-code/