Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson issued the statement below following a work session on the Voting Rights Act and the testimony of a key figure at the center of Bush Administration efforts to suppress voting:

“The fight to ensure equality in voting has been a centuries-long struggle in America. We should do what we can to ensure that fundamental American principles of fairness and accessibility in government can flourish here in Washington.

“The Washington Voting Rights Act accomplishes these goals. It is a sensible, well thought out measure that creates a flexible process giving local jurisdictions new tools and information to avoid expensive federal litigation.

“It passed the House and its Senate committee with bipartisan support, but was blocked from debate on the Senate floor by Senate Republican leadership.

“Rather than debating the merits of this critical legislation, Senate Republicans have instead brought in an individual that has built a career on voter suppression under the guise of false claims of voter fraud.

“There is serious work to get done on behalf of the people of this state. We have failed to pass our budget on time and we’re in contempt of court for failing to act on education. School districts throughout Washington are trying to write their budgets and instead of getting down to work on our paramount duty of education, Senate Republicans have instead decided to create a distraction.”