This week, House Democrats introduced the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which, if made law, would essentially re-establish a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that was nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. Specifically, the new bill would re-institute a requirement for approval by federal authorities of certain changes to the conducting of elections prior to their implementation, with the hope of thwarting voter suppression, at least in certain instances, before it begins. This week, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, publicly spoke in support of the newly introduced bill and called out Republicans for their recent anti-democratic maneuvers.
Around the country, Republicans in positions of state-level leadership have put restrictive new election rules in place, and although these leading Republicans claim that the measures help protect election security, there’s no documented, systematic problem of election security in the United States. Ample security measures are already in place and have already been in place for some time — but Republicans have nonetheless pushed forward. As Schiff put it on Twitter:
‘I believe every American has the right to vote. Period. Republicans vehemently disagree. They’d prefer to pick their voters, rather than letting the voters pick them. They’re waging war on democracy. That must end. It’s time to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Now.’
I believe every American has the right to vote. Period.
Republicans vehemently disagree.
They’d prefer to pick their voters, rather than letting the voters pick them.
They’re waging war on democracy. That must end.
It’s time to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Now.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) August 17, 2021
On a similar note, Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) — identified by The New York Times as the “chief author” of the newly introduced bill — commented: “Today, old battles have become new again as we face the most pernicious assault on the right to vote in generations,” and Sewell added as follows: “It’s clear: federal oversight is urgently needed.” Considering they’re in the majority, Democrats presumably have the votes to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in the House, but the situation in the Senate is a little more complicated. At present, the Senate’s filibuster rules demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving forward, including to a final vote, on most legislation, and with the current party breakdown in the Senate, that means that 10 Republicans must join with all Democrats to move most bills forward.
Whether additional Republicans can be persuaded to support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in the Senate remains to be seen. In the meantime, Attorney General Merrick Garland has explained how previously having the provisions of the bill in place allowed federal authorities to proactively stop “thousands” of instances of impending voter suppression.