Matt Lesser

State Senator

Matt Lesser

Deputy Majority Leader

Your Independent Voice

July 1, 2021

Senator Lesser, Common Cause Blast Supreme Court, Call For Passage of Connecticut Voting Rights Act

Today, state Senator Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) blasted the US Supreme Court for a 6-3 decision weakening the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and called for the legislature to swiftly take up legislation he introduced this year, Senate Bill 820, ‘An Act Concerning A State Voting Rights,’ which would create a Connecticut Voting Rights Act modeled after the landmark 1965 law.

“This morning an extremist, activist Supreme Court majority gutted much of what’s left of the Voting Rights Act, opening the barn door for states and localities to attack the voting rights of minorities,” said Sen. Lesser. “What you’re seeing is an unelected Court conspiring with gerrymandered state legislatures around the country to thwart American democracy, undermine the right to vote and reimpose Jim Crow voting rights restrictions all across the country. ”

“While it’s tempting to say that attacks on voting rights are just a red state problem,” said Sen. Lesser. “The right to vote isn’t protected in Connecticut law either. Connecticut should pass a Connecticut Voting Rights Act swiftly – in Special Session if necessary – to ensure that the rights of our citizens are protected regardless of what happens in Washington.”

Even as dozens of states, mostly in the Midwest and South, pass legislation restricting the right to vote, several blue states across the country have moved to pass state voting rights acts, including Virginia and California.

This morning’s case, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, sharply limits enforcement of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

A 2013 case, Shelby County v. Holder effectively struck down Section 5 of the VRA, which concerned preclearance.

Cheri Quickmire, Executive Director of Connecticut Common Cause, agreed. “State legislatures around the country have been passing laws that create barriers to voting for Black, Brown and low-income people. This is exactly what was predicted, after the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision – and today’s Brnovich decision is expected to make it harder to challenge these new ‘Jim Crow 2’ laws in court,” said Quickmire.

“These Supreme Court decisions are moving our country in the wrong direction. In America, all of our voices should be heard. All eligible voters should be able to cast a ballot that is counted,” said Quickmire. “We want to applaud Senator Matt Lesser’s leadership in proposing SB 820 to tackle these issues.”

In addition to Common Cause CT, Senate Bill 820 was supported by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Bridgeport Generation Now Votes, the Campaign Legal Center, Black and Brown United in Action, the Connecticut League of Women Voters, ConnPIRG and ACLU Connecticut among others.

The bill received a favorable vote in committee but was not acted upon by the state Senate during the regular session.