What Are State Voting Rights Acts?

State Voting Rights Acts (state VRAs) are state laws modeled on the federal Voting Rights Act. Like the federal VRA, state VRAs enable designated communities with a history of political exclusion and disenfranchisement (typically racial, ethnic, and linguistic communities) to challenge electoral laws and practices that create barriers to their political participation and dilute their voting power. This is done by creating causes of action that allow members of those communities or designated government agencies to bring lawsuits, and preclearance requirements, which require jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to receive permission before making changes to the electoral process that could affect protected communities. California became the first state to adopt its own VRA in 2001. Since then, five other states have adopted state VRAs, with Connecticut becoming the most recent adoption this year.

State VRAs are a relatively new policy idea, and the amount of state VRA legislation is still relatively small.

Why are we tracking this?

Interest in state VRAs has grown in recent years as the Supreme Court has gradually weakened the federal VRA. Some voting rights advocates see state VRAs as a way to entrench the protections of the federal VRA into state law as well as an opportunity to go further and establish stronger protections than exist at the federal level.

State VRAs can also serve as vehicles for other reforms discussed in this report. The broad authority they provide courts to fix voting rights violations means that state VRAs can enable courts to use things like proportional representation as remedies to address discriminatory and dilutive election laws and policies.

Fast stats:

Total proposals:


Total states:


States with the most proposals:

CT (2), MD (2), WA (2)

Proposals passed:


Proposals passing only one chamber:


Bipartisan proposals


Additional Analysis:

In 2023, legislators introduced ten state VRA bills in six states. One of those states, Connecticut, passed a state VRA into law. Connecticut’s VRA law was initially introduced as a standalone bill (SB 1226, “An Act Concerning State Voting Rights in Recognition of John R. Lewis”) but was later incorporated into the state budget bill (HB 6941) and passed into law that way.

  • ➤ State Voting Rights Acts by the numbers:

    • 9 bills were introduced by Democrats, and 1 bill (CT’s SB 1226) had bipartisan sponsorship (58D/1R).
      • All 6 states in which state VRAs were introduced were Democratic trifectas.
    • 7 bills would create brand new state VRAs, and 2 bills would make changes to an existing state VRA (WA’s SB 5047 and HB 1048).

Washington State also passed legislation related to state VRAs. Washington adopted VRA in 2018 (the Washington Voting Rights Act). This session, Washington passed legislation (HB 1048) building on the Washington Voting Rights Act by adding and expanding provisions related to party standing, establishing and remedying violations, and cost recovery, and creating the requirement that “the right to vote shall be construed liberally.”

All six states where a state VRA was introduced this session are Democratic trifectas. All state VRA bills were sponsored entirely by Democrats, with the exception of the unsuccessful legislation in Connecticut, which had a single Republican co-sponsor. That bill was eventually combined with a budget bill, which, while sponsored only by Democrats, received significant Republican votes for final passage.19

State VRAs are a relatively new policy idea, and the amount of state VRA legislation is still relatively small. The most obvious commonality between the state VRA legislation introduced this session is that it has all been introduced in Democratic-controlled states with overwhelmingly Democratic sponsorship. This could be the result of partisan polarization on the issue, as we have seen at the federal level with support for legislation to restore parts of the federal VRA.20 Still, we may see different trends in future legislative sessions.

  • ➤ Full List of State Voting Rights Acts We Tracked

    Download the full list (PDF)

    State Bill Number Category sub-category Final Disposition Last Action # of sponsors partisanship
    WA SB 5047 State VRA State VRA enhancement did not pass Introduced 17 D
    WA HB 1048 State VRA State VRA enhancement passed Signed into law 18 D
    CT HB 6941 State VRA New act passed Signed into law 7 D
    CT SB 1226 State VRA New act did not pass Passed one chamber 59 58D/1R
    IL HB 1244 State VRA New act did not pass Introduced 2 D
    MD SB 878 State VRA New act did not pass Introduced 1 D
    MD HB 1104 State VRA New act did not pass Introduced 1 D
    MI SB 401 State VRA New act did not pass Introduced 5 D
    NJ SB 2997 State VRA New act did not pass Introduced 4 D
    NJ AB 4554 State VRA New act did not pass Introduced 4 D


19 42 Republicans vote “yea” and 12 voted “nay” in the House vote  (see https://legiscan.com/CT/rollcall/HB06941/id/1339014) while 10 Repubicans vote “yea” and 1 voted “nay” on the Senate vote (see https://legiscan.com/CT/rollcall/HB06941/id/1339542). Since the bill combined the state VRA with the state’s annual budget, support or opposition to HB 6941 may not be entirely based on any legislator’s view on the proposed state VRA itself as a vote in favor of the bill would also be a vote in favor of the proposed budget.

20 The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, HR 14, had exclusively Democratic sponsorship as of the time of publication. See https://legiscan.com/US/sponsors/HB14/2023.