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VRAA discussion makes its way to Acadiana

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Posted at 8:59 AM, Jan 18, 2022

LAFAYETTE, L.a. — Family members of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are calling for lawmakers to take action on voting rights.

"For all the elected leaders out there who are tweeting, posting, and celebrating my grandfather Dr. King, today my message to you is simple, do not celebrate, legislate," said Yolanda Renee King.

Tuesday the U.S. Senate will continue the nationwide debate on measures regarding voting access and protection against discrimination at the ballot — but it's a conversation and debate underway in Acadiana as well.

Among legislation facing an uncertain future in Washington is the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Democrats argue it will restore the original bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 1965 to full protection — establishing a process to review voting changes nationwide — specifically those that historically discriminate against voters.

KATC spoke with M. Christian Green, vice president of the Louisiana League of Women Voters. She said that the state at every level once had to have all district maps approved by the Department of Justice.

"The John Lewis voting rights advancement act would essentially put back into place some of those requirements," she said.

But Republicans like Acadiana Congressman Clay Higgins see it as the federalization of elections.

"We certainly do not support injuring the sovereignty of our states and the rights of our states to provide laws and pass laws in the state legislatures that are unique to that state and designed to be reflective of the needs of that state," Higgins told KATC.

Green said, however, this is not the case.

"We see the attempt to reinstate these requirements as creating a floor, not even creating a ceiling," Green said. "I mean, states could pass all sorts of positive legislation that could improve elections and voting even further, but we do think there needs to be some sort of a bare minimum."

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