Dec. 6, 2019 by David Silverberg
By a vote of 228 to 187, the US House of Representatives today passed the Voting Rights Enhancement Act (House Resolution 4), restoring elements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act to curb voter suppression.
All of Southwest Florida’s congressional representatives voted against the bill, which was opposed by President Donald Trump.
The bill determines which jurisdictions would have to get “preclearance” before they can change voting practices. “Preclearance” is approval from the US Department of Justice or a US District Court.
The law is intended to prevent the kind of voter suppression practices that used to occur in segregationist states. Elements of the Voter Rights Act to prevent these kinds of practices were struck down by the US Supreme Court six years ago. This bill restores those protections in legislation.
Under the bill, for the next ten years states would have to get preclearance if 15 or more voting rights violations occurred in the state during the previous 25 years; or if 10 or more violations occurred during the previous 25 years, at least one of which was committed by the state itself.
A non-state jurisdiction (like a county, town or city) would also need to get preclearance for a 10-year period if three or more voting rights violations occurred there during the previous 25 years.
According to Rep. Terri Sewell (D-7-Ala.), the sponsor of the bill, 11 states would likely be subject to reviews if it became law: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
“Our Democratic majority came to Congress with an urgent promise to secure the sacred right to vote,” said House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) before the vote. “We must restore the strength of the Voting Rights Act.”
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.), however, characterized the law as a “grotesquely disguised” voting rights bill.
“In 2006, I proudly voted for the permanent extension of the original Voting Rights Act, which already prohibits voter discrimination on the basis of race or sex, and allows federal judges to take the necessary measures against jurisdictions who violate this law,” stated Diaz-Balart on his website. “The bill brought forth by Democratic Leadership today is not a reauthorization, as it’s already law. Instead, it’s the federal takeover of local elections. This highly partisan legislation, grotesquely disguised as the Voting Rights Act, would give federal bureaucrats control over state and local elections. Once again, Democratic Leadership is focused on phony bills instead of reaching across the aisle to obtain real solutions for the American people.”
The bill now goes to the Senate where it is unlikely to be considered.
Liberty lives in light
©2019 by David Silverberg