© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Connecticut Senate approves state voting rights bill

M. Spencer Green

The Connecticut Senate has advanced a voting rights bill in honor of the late Georgia Congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis.

The bill passed the Senate on a 27-9 vote on Thursday night.

It is aimed at protecting historically marginalized communities and would improve access to the polls for all Connecticut voters, said Senator Patricia Billie Miller (D-Stamford), chair of the Legislature’s Black and Puerto Rican caucus.

“We have to give individuals the opportunity to vote. If I speak Creole, if I speak Spanish, I should be able to go to the polls and cast my vote, because guess what, that means I’m a citizen if I can vote,” she said.

The bill would codify into Connecticut law several provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which bans discrimination in voting and prohibits any city or town from engaging in intimidating, deceptive or obstructive acts that affect a person's right to vote.

The bill is in response to a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down parts of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had been championed by the late Congressman Lewis, said Senator Heron Gaston (D-Bridgeport), who had worked as a Congressional intern to Lewis.

We need to ensure that all people regardless of what you look like, where you come from, your background, your native tongue, have an opportunity to go out and vote, and have those voting rights protected,” said Gaston.

The bill now goes to the Connecticut House for action.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.