Passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act Cannot Wait
November 17, 2021
Rep. John Lewis died over a year ago, in the midst of his passing senators and representatives from both sides of the aisle shared kind words about him and honoring his legacy. However, sentiment does not seem to align with congressional action.
On three occasions in the past month, Senate Republicans have blocked discussing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R.4).
What’s in the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act?
- The John Lewis Voting Rights Act (VRAA) would restore the full power and protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
- In 2013, in the disastrous Shelby County v. Holder decision, the Supreme Court struck down the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act. This provision required states with a history of enacting racist anti-voter laws to get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice before their state’s election laws could be changed.
- This bill would restore the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act and hopefully expand the list of covered states.
- This would prevent future discriminatory laws from being allowed on the books — like we are seeing proliferate across the country now.
Suppression tactics to hamper voter participation have become campaign strategy. Gerrymandered districts reflect the needs of the party in power, not the constituents. It is often impossible to know the sources of campaign attacks and fear-mongering half-truths. While these weaknesses were on full display, a coordinated misinformation campaign by the loser’s party is dangerously undermining voters’ trust in elections.
In a faithful democracy, elections, campaigns, and voting are all mechanisms for a collective wisdom to break through which shapes truly representative leadership and empowers accountable decision-makers. This is the open-loop system that, at its best, brings about a more perfect union. Transformational reforms are needed to get us there, and they cannot wait another election cycle.