Senate Dems Release Bill to Update Voting Rights Act


Senate Democrats this week released a new piece of legislation that would update and strengthen the Voting Rights Act in response to two court rulings that struck down sections of the law, The Hill reports.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and 48 other senators introduced the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act on Tuesday, which Leahy described during a floor speech as the “culmination of many months of tireless work across the halls of Congress — exactly what Congressman Lewis would have wanted to see.”

“Today, tens of thousands of Americans are being disenfranchised, under the guise of state law,” Leahy added. “Make no mistake: This tidal wave of voter suppression efforts seeks to bend the arc of equal justice and equal rights backwards. This simply cannot stand.” 

The bill specifically concerns two sections that were gutted, according to the Hill, by two court decisions: Shelby County v. Holder in 2013 and Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee in 2021. The first decision affected Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act that allowed the Justice Department to review changes to voting in states that have a history of discriminating based on race, and the second decision upheld two voting restrictions in Arizona that Democrats said had weakened Section 2 of the law that bans voting policy that are racially motivated.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced a similar bill last month that included several voting rights policy changes called the Freedom to Vote Act, but any bill would require 60 votes to pass the Senate, which Democrats may struggle to find in the evenly divided Upper Chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Tuesday that the bill from Leahy and his colleagues acts as an “important complement” to the bill submitted by Klobuchar and her colleagues, which he has promised to hold a vote on as early as this week, according to NPR.