facebook linkedin twitter

Congress Considers New Voting Rights Laws After Supreme Court Broadens State Authority

September 17, 2019 by Tom Ramstack
Congress Considers New Voting Rights Laws After Supreme Court Broadens State Authority

WASHINGTON — Congress considered options at a hearing last week on how to guarantee easier access to voter registration during a continuing struggle over states’ rights.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to review the consequences of the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The decision removed obstacles to states setting many of their own rules on voter registration.

Congress is considering legislation that could redefine state authority after reports some legislatures are engaging in abuses.

Critics of the ruling say it allows states to set voter rules that exclude underprivileged residents. Witnesses at the congressional hearing named Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas as the worst offenders.

The states often use their authority under the Shelby County ruling to ban convicted felons from voting, require photo ID’s, limit the number of polling places and redraw voting districts.

Civil rights leaders say the photo ID requirement excludes low-income persons who might lack drivers licenses. The other restrictions often prevent minority residents from voting, according to critics of the Supreme Court ruling.

The ruling gutted two sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

One provision required states to obtain federal preclearance before changing their voting laws. The other granted the federal government a higher degree of supervision of state voting laws based on their histories of discrimination.

The state legislatures say their new rules and authority are designed to prevent voter fraud by making residents more accountable and keeping out troublemakers.

At the hearing this week, Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, argued that the federal government preclearance and supervision of states should be reinstated by Congress. The leading congressional bill to reinstate preclearance is the “Voting Rights Advancement Act” (H.R. 4 / S. 561).

A second pending bill, the “For the People Act” (H.R. 1 / S. 949), would promote automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration and restore voting rights of ex-felons.

“The Center for American Progress issued a report in which they found that there were several ‘voter suppression measures’ and other Election Day problems that potentially kept millions of eligible Americans from participating in the 2018 midterm elections,” Johnson said in his testimony.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Under Law released a report this week showing that 1,700 polling places were closed in southern states after the 2013 Shelby County ruling.

Texas alone closed 750 polling places, the report says. In Arizona, 13 of the state’s 15 counties closed the voting locations, particularly in places high in the number of Hispanic residents.

“We must recognize that closures are taking place at alarming speed amid broader efforts to prevent people of color from voting,” said Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference. “And meanwhile, states are under no obligation to evaluate the discriminatory impacts of such closures. This is exactly why we need to restore the Voting Rights Act and all of its protections.”

Gupta put part of the blame on the Trump administration, saying, “Restoring preclearance is all the more important under an administration that refuses to challenge discriminatory voting measures. Not a single case has been opened, including barriers to registration, restrictive voter ID requirements and polling place closures.”

Other jurisdictions are using their broader authority over voter registration to include more residents at polling places.

The District of Columbia Council is considering legislation that would make it the nation’s first jurisdiction to allow convicted felons to vote while they are imprisoned.

In Maryland, state lawmakers last year approved legislation that automatically registers residents to vote when they deal with several state agencies.

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

Voting

Voting Bill Collapses, Democrats Unable to Change Filibuster

WASHINGTON (AP) — Voting legislation that Democrats and civil rights leaders say is vital to protecting democracy collapsed when two senators refused... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — Voting legislation that Democrats and civil rights leaders say is vital to protecting democracy collapsed when two senators refused to join their own party in changing Senate rules to overcome a Republican filibuster after a raw, emotional debate. The outcome Wednesday night was a stinging... Read More

January 18, 2022
by Dan McCue
‘Eye of Nation Watching’ as Voting Rights Bill Appears Headed for Defeat

WASHINGTON — With the defeat of sweeping voting rights legislation all but certain in the Senate this week, Majority Leader... Read More

WASHINGTON — With the defeat of sweeping voting rights legislation all but certain in the Senate this week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stressed a different goal as he opened the chamber’s session on Tuesday, forcing all senators to go on the record about where they stand... Read More

Sinema, Manchin Slammed as Senate Begins Voting Bill Debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing stark criticism from civil rights leaders, senators return to Capitol Hill under intense pressure to change... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing stark criticism from civil rights leaders, senators return to Capitol Hill under intense pressure to change their rules and break a Republican filibuster that has hopelessly stalled voting legislation. The Senate is set to launch debate Tuesday on the voting bill with attention... Read More

January 12, 2022
by Dan McCue
Voting Rights and Fate of the Filibuster Set Senate Showdown on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON — The Senate only just returned to work a few days ago, but already it’s embroiled in the knock-down,... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Senate only just returned to work a few days ago, but already it’s embroiled in the knock-down, drag-out brawl of the year. The “it,” of course, is the raging war of words over Senate Democrats' effort to pass a sweeping voting rights bill... Read More

Biden to Back Filibuster Changes to Push Voting Rights Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will use a speech in Georgia to endorse changing Senate filibuster rules that have stalled voting rights... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will use a speech in Georgia to endorse changing Senate filibuster rules that have stalled voting rights legislation, saying it’s time to choose “democracy over autocracy.” But some civil rights groups won’t be there, in protest of what they say is administration inaction.... Read More

Invoking Jan. 6, Dems Pivot to Fight for Voting Legislation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are mounting an impassioned bid to overhaul Senate rules that stand in the way of their... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are mounting an impassioned bid to overhaul Senate rules that stand in the way of their sweeping voting legislation, arguing dark forces unleashed by Donald Trump’s falsehoods about the 2020 election demand an extraordinary response. In fiery speeches and interviews, President Joe Biden and... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top