ANCHORAGE: The NAACP says that the proposed Bills, S. 1945 and H.R. 3809, the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 need to be amended, strengthened and passed swiftly. On Thursday, January 16, 2014, Members of the U.S. Senate, led by Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) and the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Congressman James Sensenbrenner (WI) introduced bipartisan legislation, S. 1945 / H.R. 3899, the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014.
The purpose of these bills is to update and modernize the provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) which were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder case decided on June 25, 2013.
When the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act on June 25, the Alaska Governor’s office was quick to rejoice. Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell issued a statement calling the ruling a “victory” that “Alaskans can be proud of.”
Under the old law, Alaska was the only non-Southern state required to submit changes in its election practices to federal scrutiny and approval, a process called preclearance.
While the NAACP deeply appreciates all of the work that went into crafting this bi-partisan legislation, we will now work to amend it through the legislative process. The legislation which was just introduced creates a new formula for determining which states must obtain pre-approval before making any changes to their election laws.
The NAACP stated, “More states and jurisdictions with a troubling history of administering voter disenfranchising practices must have their proposed changes to election laws and practices pre-cleared. Too few jurisdictions will be covered if it is enacted in its current form. From the exceptions for voter ID laws to decreased preclearance coverage to increased reliance on costly litigation, there are essential weaknesses must be revised to ensure ALL voters have fair access to the ballot box. While we know that compromise will be needed to pass this bill, we cannot sacrifice a core principle: participation in our democracy should be unfettered and all votes should be properly counted.”