In 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Shelby v. Holder in which the Court decided that Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which establishes the formula that is used to determine which states and jurisdictions must comply with preclearance, is antiquated and thus unconstitutional and can no longer be used. Thus, although Section 5 (preclearance) prevailed, it is currently not being used. The U.S. Supreme Court also made it clear in its decision that a new, updated preclearance formula can and should be designed by the U.S. Congress.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act was introduced in both the House (H.R. 4, by Congresswoman Terri Sewell, AL) and is supported by the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian and Pacific American Caucus among others. This seminal legislation would: modernize the preclearance formula to cover states with an historical pattern and practice of discrimination; ensure that last-minute voting changes won’t adversely affect voters; protect voters from the types of voting changes most likely to discriminate against people of color and language minorities; enhance the ability to apply a preclearance review when needed; expand the effective Federal Observer Program; and improve voting Rights protections for Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Furthermore, this legislation includes all of the priorities necessary for a strong VRA restoration as established by the NAACP National Board of Directors.
HR 4 is expected to be voted on by the full House on Thursday or Friday of this week. PLEASE contact your US Representative and urge him or her to support this crucial legislation.