The legislators' bill would give the federal government rule over any changes made to a state's voting laws
Congressional democrats are working to restore parts of the Voting Rights Act, which Republicans have been attempting to strip in recent months.
The lawmakers introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 yesterday, which would require states that have had at least 15 voting violations since 1990 to seek federal approval before altering any voting laws. If passed, 13 states, including New York, Louisiana and Texas, would automatically be subject to federal supervision. A similar bill that would have only required four states to get approval was introduced last year, but it didn't survive long enough to get a House vote.
"There are politicians here in Washington and around the country who are trying to erect barriers to the right to vote, and we have to have an aggressive response," sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) told ThinkProgress. "Initially, two years ago, you had some Republicans who were with us on this—at least saying the right thing. But since then, a lot of that has broken down, but we have to continue to fight to move forward."
If the bill passes, states who are under federal supervision would have to prove that any changes made within the voting system would not disproportionately target citizens of color.
In 2013—two years before the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act—the Supreme Court issued a ruling that abolished the federal government's supervision over state voting laws. Now, congressional democrats are saying it's time for a change.
"In this 50th anniversary year, Congress can't let the few who dispute the reality of voting discrimination stop the majority from doing what it knows is right," said Wade Henderson, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, in a statement. "This year, Congress must work together to pass historic voting rights legislation."