Conservatives are sounding the alarm about Democrats’ next round of federal election legislation, arguing it would require any state wishing to implement voter ID laws or other changes to get approval from the Biden Justice Department.
Hans von Spakovsky, who leads the Heritage Foundation‘s Election Law Reform Initiative, said the John Lewis Voting Rights Act is just as far-reaching as Democrats’ For the People Act, also known as H.R. 1, which failed to clear procedural hurdles in the Senate last week.
“I would hope that on the Republican side, they are smart enough to understand they need to filibuster this bill just as much as they did H.R. 1 because this is basically a backdoor way of achieving what liberals wanted to achieve with H.R. 1,” Mr. Spawkovsky said.
His organization came out against the legislation this week with Kay James, president of the Heritage Foundation, saying it masquerades as a civil rights bill but in reality, it is a power grab from federal politicians over elections.
“Politicians have a new plan they hope to ram through Congress. Their new bill would eliminate important safeguards that would protect our elections. They don’t care that your vote could be canceled out by someone else’s illegal one,” she said in a video released this week.
Named after the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, the legislation would restore parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.
The justices in Shelby County v. Holder ruled it was unconstitutional for the Justice Department to subject states to certain pre-clearance of election laws based on an outdated formula.
Since the high court struck down the preclearance provision, which mainly targeted southern states, Democrats have moved to introduce updated legislation to restore the federal approval and oversight of states altering their election laws.
The legislation, according to Mr. Spawkovsky, would now give the federal government control over whether states and counties can pass laws impacting voter registration and the removal of dead voters from voting rolls.
This time, the Democrats’ bill has bipartisan support, unlike the previous elections legislation that the upper chamber considered last week.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican, co-sponsored the legislation.
“I will work with anybody on this initiative to help update this formula to ensure that we do have … access to voting that is equal, that is fair, that is free from discrimination,” Ms. Murkowski said on the chamber floor last week.
Liberal groups, like the Brennan Center, also support the law and say it would prevent voter suppression and discrimination in elections.
“Named in honor of the late civil rights icon and longtime congressman, the bill aims to combat racial discrimination in voting by restoring and strengthening the protections of the [Voting Rights Act],” Brennan’s website reads.
But Mr. Spakovsky said the numbers from the 2020 election don’t suggest there is a problem with voter suppression, saying the turnout for the presidential election in November was the highest in a century.
“What voter suppression? There’s no voter suppression,” he said. “The numbers show that is just not true.”
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