“An under-the-radar voting rights bill in Congress could prevent the election fight in Georgia from happening again”

Jon Ward for Yahoo News:

The political battles over voting laws are at a new fever pitch, with Democrats accusing Republicans of trying to suppress participation by minority voters, and Republicans accusing Democrats of hyperbole and bad-faith objections.

Voting experts say that there are ongoing attempts to enact voter suppression laws and that there is also overheated rhetoric that in some cases has exaggerated the perceived ills of a law passed in Georgia recently.

Voting law expert Rick Hasen, author of “Election Meltdown,” said one of the reasons that the voting wars are so intense is because over the last eight years a key guardrail, which had prevented bad laws from being passed by state legislatures, has gone missing.

While there has been lots of attention on the Democrats’ voting rights bill named the For the People Act, or H.R. 1, there is another bill in Congress that would reduce the existential nature of these debates by restoring that guardrail, namely the “preclearance” provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

That bill is called the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and a bill similar to it was passed in 2019.

“The important thing to realize is that from 1965 until 2013, Georgia would not be able to do this immediately, and put into effect a potentially suppressive voting law,” Hasen said. “All voting changes had to be approved by the federal government under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court killed off in the Shelby County case.”…

President Biden has repeatedly referred to Georgia’s new voting law as “Jim Crow on steroids,” while Republicans have insisted that the Georgia law is less restrictive than the ones in place in some blue states such as New York.

But Hasen argues the truth is more complicated and says the new Georgia law “is a mixed bag.”

“Some parts of it actually make some sense in making things better,” Hasen said. “Some parts of it can only be understood as an attempt to suppress the vote among counties where you’re going to find large numbers of minority voters. And some of it is really aimed at making the vote counting process more politicized, which I think is the least covered but most dangerous aspect of the law.”

The biggest problem with the Georgia law, Hasen said, is that “Republicans are feeding the Trumpian base of the Republican Party, which believes the false claims that the election was stolen and it’s something needs to be done.”


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