New Journal and Guide Staff
As Texas and other southern states pass laws seeking to restrict minority voting rights, Gov. Ralph Northam was in Newport News on Sept. 13 to ceremonially sign the Voting Rights Act of Virginia, the most progressive in the region.
The legislation was fashioned during the 2021 session of the Legislature.
It will prohibit state and local policy from denying or restricting anyone the right to vote because of their race, color, or language they speak.
The governor was joined by lawmakers State Delegate Marcia Price and State Senate Jennifer McClellan, the two main sponsors of the legislation, and Tram Nguyen of New Virginia Majority, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza in the East End of Newport News.
Nguyen said Virginia has already moved up among other states from 38 to 12 in creating a comfortable atmosphere in which to vote.
Del. Price, who represents parts of Newport News said, “Virginia is standing strong against a coordinated and intentional effort to restrict voting rights across the nation.” “These targeted restrictions are designed to disenfranchise people of color, working Americans, and non-native English speakers,” said State Sen. Jennifer McClellan.
“Democracy is not stationary. It is an action that requires each generation to do its part to build the beloved community that others and Dr. King worked so hard to build, and we have not yet achieved,” McClellan said.
Virginia was the first state to enact its own version of a voting rights act, as Republican-led state legislatures across the country are looking to restrict voting. The bill will usher in 45 days of early voting beginning Sept 19 leading up to the Nov. 2 General election. All 100 seats of the State House of Delegates are on the ballot.