The talks about voter suppression by the Republicans have become a new norm in the post-Trump era.
This Republican bias is primarily driven against communities of color, where senseless laws, including long lines, oppressive voter ID rules, and closures of early voting, are setting poor precedence of racial apathy in the United States.
In these testing times where Democrats are trying to resist these Republican designs, the passage of the John Lewis voting act has become an urgency to stop Republicans from pursuing their voting suppression.
While Democrats have already presented the “For the People Act,” commonly known as HR 1 legislation, John Lewis’s bill will be the final nail in Republicans’ coffin to stop Republicans’ vote suppression efforts.
As H.R.1 legislation focuses on automatic voter registration, it will bury Republicans’ hope to curb the voter turnout on election day.
However, it is pertinent to note here that solely presenting these acts will not be the solution, as long as they are not turned into legislation.
So, Democrats need to change their strategy in the Senate if they want to help the oppressed communities in reality, instead of just beating the dead horse.
What is the John Lewis voting act, and how can it help Democratic efforts to end voter suppression in the United States? Let’s see.
Ending Voter Suppression: Senators must Overturn the SC Ruling with Legislation
Since 1965, the Voting Rights Act has been safeguarding the rights of people of color in one way or another. However, the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in Shelby County v. Holder’s case dismantled the significant provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, resulting in catalyzing Republicans’ efforts of voter suppression.
In this effort to eliminate voter suppression, HR 4 legislation, popularly known as John Lewis Act, was introduced in the House of Representatives, sponsored by a Democratic Representative, Terri Sewell.
Named after the civil rights icon John Lewis, the legislation was introduced in the 116th Congress with its erstwhile name of Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019.
Lewis served seventeen terms in the United States Congress before he died of cancer in July 2020. If turned into law, the John Lewis Voter Rights Act will prove to be a significant barrier to voter suppression based on the ascribed status of the masses.
John Lewis Voting Rights Act: Not a New Bill
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act was introduced in the House of Representatives in February 2019. With 229 co-sponsors on its back, the bill quickly passed through the House in December the same year.
All Democrats in the House of Representatives voted in favor of the John Lewis Voter Rights Act.
However, Republicans going against the anti-voter suppression bills is not a new phenomenon. So, walking along the same path, Republicans did the same once again.
On the Republican side, this bill was seen as an effort to sabotage voter suppression, which has been maintaining control of red states. Therefore, it was able to get only one Republican vote.
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy then introduced the bill in the Senate in 2020. Unfortunately, due to the Republican majority in the upper House, it was subjected to the Republicans’ bias and lost in the heap of the files.
John Lewis Act: The Only Way to Stop Republicans
As a new effort to eliminate voter suppression, a new version of the John Lewis Voter Rights Act was introduced in the House at the start of 2021 once again.
This Act, presented by Representative Sarbanes, is very much similar to the Voter Right Act of 1965.
Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, states with a history of voter suppression could not change voting laws. This provision was a significant roadblock to the Republicans’ way of promoting their suppression narrative.
Under the John Lewis Act, this provision will be rejuvenated, and this is the reason why Republicans are hesitating to vote for it.
As a matter of fact, Republicans did sweeping changes in voting law in states like Georgia and Iowa and proposed even dangerous changes in some other states.
The John Lewis Bill also addresses voter access, election integrity, and security of campaign finance in addition to other matters concerning voter suppression.
The passing of the John Lewis voting rights act will also empower the courts to null and void the state decisions intended to marginalize the voter of color or any other specific community.
As the John Lewis Voting Rights Act is intended to prevent the states having a history of voter suppression from changing voting laws, probably no red-state would be able to do so.
Republicans have tried every measure to suppress the constitutional right of the masses in the recent past in almost all the red states.
This way, Republicans will be completely unequipped with their authority to make changes in the voting laws.
This fear of having no voice in deciding the mandate of the public discourse is worrying Republicans from voting in favor of the bill.
The John Lewis People’s Act addresses three main points: voting and elections, money in politics, and ethics and accountability. This is a wholesome package to strengthen democracy and increase the power of the people.
However, if Democrats become unable to show their assertiveness in this bill, it will become history soon, with no one taking its name.
For Democrats, ending the filibuster seems to be the easiest option, as convincing ten Republican senators is not a walk in the park.
Doing so is the easiest way for Democrats to extend Biden’s agenda in the United States in times to come.