Congress debates voting rights ahead of first Southern presidential primary

Washington

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — With Super Tuesday right around the corner, Congress is analyzing the barriers minority voters could face at the polls.

A House committee remained split Wednesday on whether voter suppression exists.

“Black voters and many non-black voters are at a worse place now than when the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965,” Diane Nash told the committee.

That’s coming from a civil rights icon who played a major role in getting Congress to pass the law. After risking her life to defend black voting rights, Nash said she was back before lawmakers to ensure every vote counts.

“One person, one vote,” Nash said. “If we don’t have that, I think we as a republic are in serious trouble.”

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The decision said removing requirements that 15 states get federal permission before changing their voting laws would not hurt minorities. However, Democrats want to restore the requirements, arguing states are suppressing minority votes.

“My friends on the other side of the aisle, this is the only type of government red tape that they really love is when it hampers voting,” said Rep. Jim Cooper, D-TN.

Cooper said state laws passed after the Supreme Court’s ruling make it more difficult for minorities to cast ballots, but Republicans argue mass voter suppression is not happening. Instead, they said the real concern should be preventing voter fraud.

“We must ensure that every eligible citizens’ vote is counted and that votes are not stolen or diluted,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-OH.  

Jordan said voting should remain a state and local responsibility, but as the 2020 elections ramp up, others are calling on Congress to provide federal protection.

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