In 1901, Jennifer McClellan’s great-grandfather, Henry Davidson, went to his local registrar’s office in Alabama to register to vote. He was subjected to a difficult literacy test and then was told to find three white men to vouch for his character. Over forty years later, Jenn’s own father had to pay a poll tax to vote.
Jenn knows voting is the most precious right and fundamental act in our democracy. Yet throughout our country’s history, powerful forces have worked to silence voices and deny the franchise to many. Jenn believes Virginia must remain a bedrock to protect the fundamental right to vote. She is determined to see that Virginia proactively safeguards access to the ballot for all voters.
In the legislature, Jenn has always fought to ensure every Virginia voter can have equal and fair ballot access. Jenn’s first bill passed in the General Assembly expanded absentee voting in Virginia. This year, Jenn passed the Voting Rights Act of Virginia, making Virginia the first state in the South to pass a voting rights act. The Virginia Voting Rights Act is modeled after the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 and will protect voters in the Commonwealth from suppression, discrimination, and intimidation and expand language access to voters for whom English is a second language.
Jenn has fought against Republican attempts to impose unnecessary barriers to voting such as voter ID requirements. Jenn also cosponsored newly passed laws that remove restrictive voter ID requirements, and allow no-excuse absentee voting. She was also the Senate sponsor of a law that bans prison gerrymandering and stops gerrymandering based on racial or political data.