Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, D.-Ga., and Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell Thursday introduced a bill that would restore voting rights protections struck down a year ago by the Supreme Court in an effort to block some states’ efforts to impose tough new voter registration laws. Nearly all of the 193 House Democrats have signed on to the legislation; the Congressional Black Caucus, Hispanic Caucus and Asian Pacific American Caucus also endorsed the bill. Sewell said no Republicans were willing to support the measure. The Voting Rights Advancement Act is a response to last year’s Supreme Court ruling in Shelby v. Holder; the court struck down two key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which put 13 states under strict rules not to change their voter laws without federal approval and set a formula for determining which states would be subject to the law.
The high court said the 41-year-old formula was so out of date that it was unconstitutional.
The new bill creates a new formula, but puts the 13 states – Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Arizona, California, New York, and Virginia – back under federal authority for any voting changes.
“We’re not going to have Alabama being penalized for what happened in the 1960s. Our bill examines the last 25 years – 1990 to present – as a way to put a modern-day formula on the enforcement of voting rights,” said Sewell.