President Barack Obama pledged to black lawmakers Tuesday that he will help rebuild the Voting Rights Act after a Supreme Court ruling gutted federal oversight of states with a history of bias. “He’s with us, and he wants to make sure we do something to strengthen voting rights for all Americans,” Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said at the White House after Obama met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Black lawmakers said they also discussed how to develop a new formula for deciding which states deserve extra scrutiny. Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court struck down the existing formula, based on decades-old voting data. That freed Texas and eight other states from having to get federal permission for any change to voting laws and procedures. Given the polarization in Congress, it’s unlikely lawmakers will act any time soon.
Veasey, who filed a lawsuit last month challenging Texas’ law requiring a photo ID to vote, said he asked Obama what could be done to strengthen Section 2 of the law, which prohibits discrimination against voters on the basis of race. Obama also discussed Section 5, the part that requires pre-clearance for certain states.
Caucus “members that I’ve talked to that aren’t necessarily in states that were under Section 5 are worried about things that are going on in their states, like Ohio, and some of that came up in the meeting,” Veasey said. “It’s a big issue for everybody.”