House passes voting rights bill, but GOP blockade awaits in Senate

Lawmakers drafted the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to reverse both rulings and spent months putting together a painstaking legislative record in anticipation that any changes that become law would be considered by judges.

At its core is a new formula for determining which states and local entities should be pre-screened by looking at violations of voting rights over the past 25 years. At least analysis suggests that eight states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas – and a handful of counties would be subject to such oversight.

But it would also require most jurisdictions across the country — not just those with a history of discrimination — to get federal approval before passing some sensitive election changes, like tough new voter ID requirements, the removal of polling stations, completion of electoral district lines or the establishment of new policies to eliminate voter lists en masse.

Other provisions contained in the bill could have a significant impact on electoral disputes. For example, the legislation would lower the bar for plaintiffs suing to stop election changes under the Voting Rights Act to obtain preliminary injunctions to prevent them from taking effect until a court can. examine them. Currently, election changes that are later reversed can often take months or even years to take effect because lawsuits take so long to resolve.

Elsewhere, the legislation appears to be aimed directly at many Republican state officials who have used unsubstantiated and often vague concerns about voter fraud — particularly the false claims promulgated by former President Donald J. Trump — to justify the lockdown. new restrictions on mail. in ballots and the use of ballot boxes, or to reduce early voting. Merely invoking “voter fraud” concerns is not enough, according to the bill, implying that states would have to provide evidence to back up their claims.

Senators are still negotiating their own version of the legislation and have yet to set a date to reintroduce it or call a vote. Unlike the For the People Act, it is likely to attract some bipartisan support – but not enough to pass it.

Only one Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, has agreed to put her name to similar bills in recent years. A spokeswoman for Ms Murkowski declined to comment on the House version of the bill, but the senator told The New York Times earlier this year that she did not believe she could find nine other Republicans to join her. to break the filibuster to pass the bill. .

Darcy J. Skinner