The House of Representatives passed HR4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (VRAA), on Friday, December 6, 2019. The bill would restore the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in the 2013 case Shelby County v Holder. It would empower the Department of Justice, once again, to review changes to election laws and procedures and states with a history of race-based discrimination.
When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act he called it “a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on any battlefield” and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. declared it to be “a great step forward in removing all of the remaining obstacles to the right to vote.” After Shelby, many of the states previously subject to “pre-clearance” moved quickly to enact new electoral laws, including dilutive redistricting plans and other provisions.
As FairVote President and CEO Rob Richie said of the VRAA: “Our vote is our voice, and we have no task more important than strengthening our democracy and protecting the hard-won fight to participate in it. We must support HR4 to reinvigorate the Voting Rights Act and ensure equity for all -- and we must continue to seek electoral reforms that give all voters greater choice. a stronger voice, and more representative outcomes in elections that are truly free and fair."
The bill moves next to the U.S. Senate.