Gov. Kathy Hochul is being urged by 57 civil rights and civil liberties organizations to sign a measure meant to bolster the right to vote in New York.
The package of voting law changes, named after the late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis, was approved by lawmakers in the waning days of the legislative session. Hochul had previously announced her support for the bill in her State of the State address earlier this year.
"The Legislature has delivered the nation’s strongest and most comprehensive state voting rights act to date," the groups wrote in a letter sent to Hochul this week. "Now it is time for you to honor the commitment you made in your State of the State policy book to root out discrimination against voters of color in New York and make the state a national leader on voting rights. Both New York and the nation need your leadership at this pivotal moment for our democracy."
Signing on to the letter include the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Defense Fund, among dozens of others.
If granted final approval, the bill would create a new process for a political subdivision like a school district or local government that has a history of disenfranchisement to apply for preclearance when making any changes to elections or voting-related procedures.
State lawmakers in New York pushed for the bill in order to respond to a nine-year-old Supreme Court decision that overturned a key portion of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. Action in Congress to approve a federal version has stalled.
The Conservative Party of New York is among the organizations opposing the measure, calling it bureaucratic and redundant.
But the groups in the letter to Hochul said the measure's approval would send a message.
"Today, voters of color across the country face the greatest assault on their rights since Jim Crow," the letter stated. "Dozens of states have moved backwards since voters of color made their voices heard in 2020."