Saying voter discrimination “has not gone away,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer called on GOP leaders Tuesday to update the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA). The Maryland Democrat said the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision eliminating central provisions of the law “clearly undermined the protections of the right to vote in this country” and urged Republicans to replace those provisions this year. “The majority of the court was simply wrong,” Hoyer said during a press briefing in the Capitol. “Something that had helped solve the problem, and made sure it didn’t reoccur, was jettisoned.” Republican leaders have shown little interest in the issue. And last week, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), head of the House Judiciary Committee, said congressional reforms are unnecessary because “substantial” parts of the VRA remain intact. “To this point, we have not seen a process forward that is necessary because we believe the Voting Rights Act provided substantial protection in this area,” he said Wednesday during a breakfast in Washington sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.
Hoyer strongly disagreed, arguing that new state laws allowed after the Shelby County vs. Holder decision — including shorter registration periods and tougher ID standards — are proof that voter protections are under fire in some parts of the country.
“If he [Goodlatte] has hearings, he’s going to find out that there are very, very substantial ongoing efforts [to erode voting protections],” Hoyer said. “In fact, once Shelby passed, immediately a number of jurisdictions, particularly in the South, moved to … impose greater restrictions on voting access.”
Enacted at the height of the civil rights movement, the landmark Voting Rights Act required certain states and districts with documented records of racial discrimination to get Washington’s approval before changing their voting rules. Congress last reauthorized the law in 2006 with broad bipartisan support, but the formula dictating which states require federal preclearance is decades old.
Full Article: Top Dem presses GOP on voting rights | TheHill.