Speed Reads

voting rights fight

House passes John Lewis voting rights bill

With a 219-212 vote along party lines, the House on Tuesday evening passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, named in honor of the late Democratic congressman and civil rights leader.

Supporters say the bill will strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which in recent years was hobbled by the Supreme Court, and is crucial to fighting against GOP-controlled state legislatures that are passing strict election laws that cut early voting hours, eliminate absentee ballot drop-off boxes, and impose stricter voter ID requirements. Under the measure, all states will have to get federal approval before changing voting procedures, and some will have to be supervised by the federal government when enacting those changes.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), who said "old battles have become new again. I want you to know that the modern day barriers to voting are no less pernicious than those literacy tests and those poll taxes. And what we must do, as we did back in the 60s, is when we see states running amok, we need federal oversight."

The measure faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where at least 10 Republicans would need to join Democrats to advance it.