The Left’s Election Power Grab

If you blinked, you may have missed the latest liberal power grab in Congress.

Last week, the House voted along partisan lines to pass H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, a thinly veiled effort to give left-wing activists new powers to undermine the integrity of our nation’s election laws. With H.R. 4, liberals hope to use the power of the federal government to overturn effective voter ID laws and prevent states from ensuring the integrity of their own elections.

This bill hijacks the civil rights-era Voting Rights Act by replacing the original legislation’s goal of ending racial discrimination with the partisan goal of advancing liberal political candidates.

The Voting Rights Act implemented temporary requirements called “coverage formulas” on certain states and jurisdictions to end systemic racial discrimination in voting laws. Obviously, racial discrimination is abhorrent and remains illegal under the Constitution and U.S. code. But those coverage formulas were a temporary stopgap—the covered districts now have higher voter turnout among racial minorities.

A 2014 Supreme Court decision, Shelby County v. Holder, struck down those coverage formulas while upholding the important components of the bill. The decision determined part of Section 5 of the act, which required some districts to obtain “preclearance” before making any changes to its voter laws, was outdated and only served to disempower local and state governments. The decision left the important parts of the act preventing racial discrimination intact.

The Left would have voters believe that decision has ushered in a new Jim Crow era. But that’s simply not true—racial discrimination and vote suppression is still illegal, and courts still have the power to stop it. Voter ID laws exist to protect the fundamental right of voting for every citizen—without a secure election process, our democracy cannot function. This bill undermines the ability of states to protect that process, does nothing to advance the rights of minority groups, and instead advances the interest of Washington left-leaning politicians and the swamp’s lawyers.

I’d like to give leaders on the left the benefit of the doubt and believe they only care about the integrity of the nation’s elections. But after years of liberal politicians rejecting voter ID requirements while pushing laws to allow felons to vote and spreading unsupported conspiracy theories that, for instance, have asserted Stacey Abrams and Hillary Clinton were only defeated by “voter suppression,” it’s hard to believe in the Left’s good intentions. If the Left really cared about the rule of law, they would allow the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent to stand and allow states to create their own reasonable election laws.

What’s more, the passage of H.R. 4 is emblematic of this year’s Congressional session. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that the House won’t have time to pass the much-needed USMCA, and Congress still hasn’t fixed the border or appropriated money to fund the government, they have time to pass blatant power grabs and continue to waste months on impeachment hearings.

That’s why Heritage Action has key voted against the bill—and it’s why no Senator should vote for such a blatant federal overreach. Decades of U.S. law and precedent protect the rights of citizens to vote and the rights of states to set rules for that vote. With H.R. 4, Democrats in the House have decided that states should no longer be trusted with that basic responsibility. Instead, they want to allow unelected federal judges, career bureaucrats, and D.C. lawyers to prevent any voter ID law or sensible election reforms.

It’s shameful that the Left is still trying to work against common-sense voting laws and swell the size of the Washington swamp. Unfortunately, I’m no longer surprised.

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About Jessica Anderson

Jessica Anderson is vice president of Heritage Action for America.

Photo: Shana Novak/Getty Images

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