Dems Push Regulation On Voting Rules in 11 States Under New Voting Rights Act
Counties with histories of voter discrimination to receive federal government 'approval'
House Democrats have introduced legislation that will require 11 states along with counties with recent histories of voter discrimination to receive federal government 'approval' before making any changes to their election laws.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act is a plan to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was partly struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.
The decision angered Democrats who claimed the court essentially gutted a vital provision of the law which was there to repair decades of discriminatory treatment of black voters.
The 11 states affected under the e new VRAA are as follows:
The list is somewhat shorter than the one has the bill become law it was predicted to be 13 states.
The states no longer covered are Arizona and Arkansas.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Indicated Democrats would move soon to bring the bill.
"We must finish the long march to progress, passing H.R. 4 to protect the ballot and advance justice for all," said Pelosi.
According to the Washington Examiner: In the 2013 case Shelby vs. Holder, the court said the criteria used under the VRA to determine which states or counties need to pre-clear their voting law changes with the Justice Department was out-dated and didn't reflect the realities on the ground after nearly 50 years.
The court called on Congress to update the law in a way that recognizes how some parts of the country have improved.
But Democrats said that court ruling gave states more leeway to pass even more restrictive voting laws.
Since 2013, 19 states have implemented restrictive voter identification laws, closed polling places, and shortened early voting periods, charged Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala. Sewell introduced the VRAA in the House, while Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is leading the Democrats' work in the Senate, where it is likely to face steep opposition.
Anticipating a struggle, Democrats in both chambers vowed to hold hearings to create a public record of states and localities where pre-clearance should be enforced.
"This is just a drumbeat. This legislation to become law must pass the House, the Senate, and be signed by the president," Sewell said. "And currently we have an environment that's hostile to doing what we can do to make it easier for people to vote."
The issue of voter fraud received national attention again in 2018 after defeated Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams accused Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, her rival, of exploiting his position as the state's elections supervisor to boost his chances of electoral success.
Kemp has defended his 55,000-vote margin of victory, denying the GOP reduced the number of polling places in some areas of the state.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Tuesday, lambasted the bill in a Senate floor speech, referring to it as "the Democrat Politician Protection Act."
"Speaker Pelosi’s massive, new federal takeover of the way states and communities run their elections — contains no effort whatsoever to crack down on ballot harvesting," McConnell said.
“This practice makes elections a kind of scavenger hunt to see which side’s operatives can return to headquarters with the most ballots in the trunk of their car. And once those operatives take hold of those ballots, the voters have no way to keep tabs on whether they were ever delivered."
McConnell's comments reference complaints made in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District before and after the 2018 election between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready.
A GOP-linked consultant, McCrae Dowless, allegedly paid people to collect absentee mail-in ballots from voters in two counties, a felony under North Carolina law to prevent tampering.
The seat has remained vacant in Congress as local officials have refused to certify unofficial tallies from last November that indicated Harris won the race by about 900 votes.
A new election has since been called.