The John Lewis Voting Rights Act now has bipartisan Senate support, as Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) has joined Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in calling for reauthorization.
Manchin and Murkowski wrote a joint letter to congressional leadership and provided it to PoliticusUSA:
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McCarthy, and Leader McConnell:
When President Lyndon B. Johnson transmitted a draft of the Voting Rights Act to the House of Representatives, he asserted that it would “help rid the Nation of racial discrimination in every aspect of the electoral process and thereby ensure the right of all to vote.” As we look back on that quote today, 56 years later, we reflect not just on the positive impact this legislation has had on individual Americans’ ability to exercise their most fundamental right – the right to vote – and the strength of our democracy writ large, but on the important work still have to do to realize that promise of ensuring the right of all to vote.
Since enactment, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been reauthorized and amended five times with large, bipartisan majorities. Most recently, The Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 passed the United States Senate 98-0 without a single dissenting vote. Protecting Americans’ access to democracy has not been a partisan issue for the past 56 years, and we must not allow it to become one now.
As you know, in 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Shelby v. Holder that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which determines which states and localities must get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice or the court before they make changes to their voting laws, was unconstitutional because it was based on an outdated formula. This decision effectively gutted one of the federal government’s most effective tools to preserve confidence in our nation’s elections, and we are seeing the results manifest themselves in state legislatures across the country.
Inaction is not an option. Congress must come together – just as we have done time and again – to reaffirm our longstanding bipartisan commitment to free, accessible, and secure elections for all. We urge you to join us in calling for the bipartisan reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act through regular order. We can do this. We must do this.
The odds of getting nine more Republican Senators to support reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act are close to zero, but the likely outcome remains that Democrats pass an exemption to the filibuster specifically for the Voting Rights Act, and reauthorize it with some bipartisan support.
The For The People Act looks dead, but reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act would give the Department of Justice powerful tools to take on the red state voter suppression laws and get them overturned.
A Voting Rights Act reauthorization would be huge, and today’s letter is a sign that it is on the horizon.
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Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association