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Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 - Biden/Harris

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H.R.4 - Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019

House - 07/27/2020 Pursuant to the provisions of H. Con. Res. 107, enrollment corrections on H.R. 4 have been made. (All Actions)
Passed House (12/06/2019)
Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019


This bill establishes new criteria for determining which states and political subdivisions must obtain preclearance before changes to voting practices in these areas may take effect. (Preclearance is the process of receiving preapproval from the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before making legal changes that would affect voting rights.)

A state and all of its political subdivisions shall be subject to preclearance of voting practice changes for a 10-year period if (1) 15 or more voting rights violations occurred in the state during the previous 25 years; or (2) 10 or more violations occurred during the previous 25 years, at least one of which was committed by the state itself. A political subdivision as a separate unit shall also be subject to preclearance for a 10-year period if three or more voting rights violations occurred there during the previous 25 years.

A state or political subdivision that obtains a declaratory judgment that it has not used a voting practice to deny or abridge the right to vote shall be exempt from preclearance.

All jurisdictions must preclear changes to requirements for documentation to vote that make the requirements more stringent than federal requirements for voters who register by mail or state law.

The bill specifies practices jurisdictions meeting certain thresholds regarding racial minority groups, language minority groups, or minority groups on Indian land, must preclear before implementing. These practices include changes to methods of election, changes to jurisdiction boundaries, redistricting, changes to voting locations and opportunities, and changes to voter registration list maintenance.

The bill expands the circumstances under which (1) a court may retain the authority to preclear voting changes made by a state or political subdivision, or (2) the Department of Justice may assign election observers.

States and political subdivisions must notify the public of changes to voting practices.

The bill revises the circumstances under which a court must grant preliminary injunctive relief in a challenge to voting practices.
 

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The Voting Rights Act (VRA), one of our nation’s proudest civil rights achievements,
used to protect voters from targeted voter suppression tactics.

Under the VRA, states and counties with a history of discrimination
had to get federal approval for new voting laws
— which stopped thousands of dangerous provisions from taking effect.

But the Supreme Court gutted that requirement in 2013
— giving the green light to politicians to
attack voters’ rights and pass new laws
that never would’ve stood up to this review.
 
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Chief Justice Roberts’ assessment in 2013, that the days of discrimination in voting were behind us, has been conclusively disproven by subsequent events, but his words are still the law of the land. We face serious challenges in voting ranging from foreign interference to suppression to gerrymandering to delayed results due to mail-in voting because of the pandemic. Those problems may seem overwhelming.

But the woman who saw them and the future, if the Voting Rights Act was gutted, with such clear foresight would not have given up. She would have persisted like she did when she took on inequity against women in the early part of her career. There are important jobs for each of us. We can register and vote early to take pressure off the polls during the pandemic. Healthy, low-risk people can volunteer as poll workers or watchers.

The measure of how much each vote matters is that there are people who try to prevent some of us from casting ballots. We need a steadfast commitment to guaranteeing the right to vote for all Americans, no matter who they vote for. And a new voting rights act would honor Justice Ginsburg’s legacy. She would want us to keep the umbrella open.

https://time.com/5890983/ruth-bader-ginsburg-voting-rights/
 
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