Democratic lawmakers are one step closer to consolidating power over the nation’s elections at the federal level.
Details of the bill
If it is signed into law, the legislation would require states to seek approval from the Department of Justice before changing election laws if the federal government believes they would serve to block people from voting.
Democratic proponents of the measure have asserted that Republicans are engaged in a nationwide effort to prevent racial minorities from engaging in the electoral process. Some critics claim that GOP candidates cannot win elections fairly and thus must rig the system by disenfranchising Democratic-leaning constituencies through the implementation of neo-Jim Crow laws.
For their part, Republicans dismiss the narrative and insist it is the Democratic Party that wishes to control elections by striking down largely popular measures such as voter identification requirements.
As for the John Lewis Act, which is named for the late Democratic lawmaker and civil rights activist, it would place states and districts under federal pre-clearance requirements for a decade if a certain number of “voting rights violations” are identified therein.
Democrats say prior U.S. Supreme Court rulings have gutted the Voting Rights Act, necessitating the advancement of such bills.
“More work to do”
Of course, Vice President Kamala Harris acknowledged that the John Lewis Act would actually “expand” the reach of the original Voting Rights Act.
She joined others on the left in celebrating the bill’s passage in the House, calling it an “important step” but adding that there “is more work to do.”
The John Lewis Act represents the next best thing after the more robust HR1 — also known as the For the People Act — failed to gain traction earlier this year.
For his part, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) warned on Tuesday that the bill would effectively grant D.C. veto powers over how states run their elections, adding: “HR4 is HR1 (2.0), don’t be fooled.”
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) called it “an unconstitutional way for the federal government to dictate elections” that would ultimately “weaken the vote” of American citizens. After its passage in the House, the legislation will advance to the Senate for a vote.