House Passes the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

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Image: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House passed voting rights legislation named in honor of the late civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis, according to NPR.

On Tuesday, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act was approved 219-212 with all Republicans voting against the legislation. Titled HR 4, the bill would restore the pre-clearance formula from the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, a key provision that mandated federal review of local election laws and states with a history of voter discrimination was removed after Shelby County, Alabama, filed a lawsuit in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court ruling that required states to seek approval from the Department of Justice before amending voting procedures was deemed unconstitutional.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted the importance of ensuring that everyone has the right to vote amid voter suppression laws enacted by several states and how the right to vote was John Lewis’ life’s work.

“We should have the right to vote and shouldn’t be diminished by anyone. It is unpatriotic to undermine the ability of people who have a right to vote, who have access to the polls,” she said. “As John knew, this precious pillar of our democracy is under attack from one of the worst voter suppression campaigns since Jim Crow.”

Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell, who introduced the legislation, recognized the long history of Black Americans being denied the right to vote and this bill seeks to address the latest attempts to disenfranchise voters.

“Old battles have become new again,” Sewell said. “I want you to know that the modern-day barriers to voting are no less pernicious than those literacy tests and those poll taxes. And what we must do, as we did back in the ’60s, is when we see states running amok, we need federal oversight.”

Although the bill has passed in the House because of the Democratic majority, it now moves to the Senate where Republicans filibustered the voting rights legislation back in June. 
Additionally, the vote to advance an amended version of the For the People Act split along party lines 50-50, short of the 60 votes required.

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