Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has joined Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in introducing the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015. The bill would restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was nullified by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Feinstein strongly disagreed with the decision.
“The right to vote is one of the pillars of our democracy and must be protected,” Feinstein said. “Over the last several years there has been a concerted effort to make it harder for some Americans to cast their ballots, and that’s not what this country stands for. Voting is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution, and Congress must take action to restore the Voting Rights Act and ensure everyone’s vote counts.”
Specifically, the Supreme Court ruled that states and counties were no longer required to get approval from the U.S. Justice Department to change their voting laws, which was known as “preclearance.” The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 will establish new criteria to determine which states will be required to submit changes to their voting laws for approval. The formula, which would be administered by the U.S. Justice Department, would focus on states with numerous voting rights violations over the past 25 years.
The legislation will also establish a process to review voting changes in jurisdictions that don’t already require review to protect minority voters, and expands federal court discretion following the finding of a voting rights violation, to require a jurisdiction to be subject to preclearance.
For information, visit www.feinstein.senate.gov.
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