DC lawmakers have introduced a bill updating the formula used by the Voting Rights Act to determine which states and localities must submit changes in voting locations and election procedures to the federal government for approval. Under the new formula, Georgia would again be among the locations required to submit changes before they could go into effect.
Arguing it was outdated, the Supreme Court last June invalidated the original formula passed in 1965. The ruling effectively gutted Section 5 of the VRA, and allowed the previously affected states and municipalities, including Georgia, the freedom to change precinct boundaries and voting locations on their own.
The bill was written by John Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), John Conyers (D-Michigan) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont). It was was introduced to coincide with Monday’s Martin Luther King holiday. According to the Associated Press,
The new bill redraws from scratch the formula used to determine which states are required to seek federal approval before changing their voting practices. It requires clearance only from states where there have been at least five Voting Rights Acts violations – with at least one committed by the state itself.
Supporters said only Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas fall into that category. After 10 years, states could seek a “bailout” from the clearance requirement.
This morning’s AJC quotes Atlanta Rep. John Lewis:
The swift action we took on this issue demonstrates the importance of the right to vote (for) members on both sides of the aisle,” said Rep. John Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat and former civil rights movement leader. “It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society.”
While the bill may gain some traction in the Democratically controlled Senate, support in the Republican controlled House is much less certain.