Tags: Charles Dent | voting rights act | voter I.D. laws | civil rights

Rep. Dent: Republicans Agree Parts of Voting Rights Act Need Rewritten

By    |   Sunday, 22 Feb 2015 12:18 PM

Many Republicans recognize that the Voting Rights Act was the "single most important civil rights legislation ever passed in American history," Rep. Charles Dent said Sunday, and take seriously the fact that it will need to be amended given a Supreme Court ruling two years ago that found parts of it unconstitutional.

"I believe there is more Republican support for the bill than there are co-sponsors," the Pennsylvania Republican told NBC "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd. "I think there is going to be considerable support for this bill if it gets considered."

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, explained in the segment that a rewrite current bill, proposed by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Frank Sensenbrenner Jr., creates a formula to require jurisdictions that violated the Voting Rights Act during the last 15 years to undergo a preclearance provision included in the initial act. She noted that Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon, is in favor of the rewrite.

Dent said he believes the formula in the new bill strikes the right balance between states' rights and voter rights, and noted that he agrees with Sensenbrenner Jr. on the proposal.

In 2013, when the Supreme Court made its ruling, Sensenbrenner wrote in a USA Today column that initially, the act required " federal preclearance of changes to voting laws in areas with histories of discrimination" in hopes of stopping discriminatory practices before they could have an effect on elections.

But the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 decision, eliminated the formula for deciding which areas were to be covered by the section of the VRA for preclearance, meaning that " preclearance requirements remain, but only apply in the handful of locations subject to a court order."

Dent said that the amendment bill, sponsored by Sensenbrenner, would cause four states to be put in a preclearance status, rather than nine states as before.

"A lot of groups out there on the outside, the NAACP and others, are generally supportive of the bill," said Dent. "Certainly John Lewis, an icon is supportive. And many Republican members. I think we have got the right balance here."

But there is one sticking point, said Dent, the matter of voter ID laws.

"We just had this case in Texas last year, in which a federal judge found that Texas' voter I.D. law was passed for the purpose of discriminating against minority voters," said Dent.

But Dent said he supports the call for voter ID laws, and believes Republicans will insist on them.

"I'm from Pennsylvania," he said. "I witnessed voter fraud. We had a sitting state senator thrown out because of absentee ballot fraud in the 1990s. I lived through that. It was awful ... there is real fraud out there. We can be against discrimination and against fraud. Those two ideas are compatible."

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Many Republicans recognize that the Voting Rights Act was the single most important civil rights legislation ever passed in American history, Rep. Charles Dent said Sunday, and take seriously the fact that it will need to be amended given a Supreme Court ruling two years...
Charles Dent, voting rights act, voter I.D. laws, civil rights
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2015-18-22
Sunday, 22 Feb 2015 12:18 PM
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