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Congress Could Change Everything

Forty-eight states have tried or are trying to enact legislation that could make it harder to vote. The Senate can stop voter suppression by passing the For the People Act, which passed the House in March.

For the People Act
Emily Haasch/Interim Archives/JasonRedmond/Getty

Amer­ica is facing an over­whelm­ing legis­lat­ive assault on voting rights.

As of July 14, legis­lat­ors have intro­duced more than 400 bills with restrict­ive provi­sions in 49 states. Fueled by the Big Lie of wide­spread voter fraud and often discrim­in­at­ory in design, these bills have the poten­tial to dramat­ic­ally reduce voting access, espe­cially for Black and brown voters.

This legis­lat­ive campaign to suppress the vote can — and must — be stopped by Congress. The Bren­nan Center has analyzed each of the restrict­ive voting bills pending in the states and concludes that The For the People Act (H.R. 1/S. 1) would block many of them. The For the People Act, which passed the United States House of Repres­ent­at­ives in early March, is a trans­form­at­ive bill that would expand voting rights and strengthen our demo­cracy.

The land­mark legis­la­tion would create a national baseline for voting access that every Amer­ican can rely on, and it would foil state efforts to manip­u­late voting rules to exclude eligible voters or create discrim­in­at­ory outcomes. As Pres­id­ent Biden said on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the For the People Act is “urgently needed to protect the right to vote, the integ­rity of our elec­tions, and to repair and strengthen our demo­cracy.” Along with the John Lewis Voting Rights Advance­ment Act, it includes all of the crit­ical reforms needed to prevent voter suppres­sion. Amidst a with­er­ing attack on voting rights in nearly every state, the Senate must now get to work and pass this bill into law.

The table below outlines each of the major themes of the intro­duced state voter suppres­sion bills and explains how the For the People Act would address them.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advance­ment Act would also address many of these bills to the extent that they are discrim­in­at­ory. It would modern­ize the Voting Rights Act and restore the require­ment that certain states and local­it­ies with a history of voting discrim­in­a­tion get prior federal approval — or “preclear­ance” — of any changes to their voting rules and prac­tices to make sure that they are not discrim­in­at­ory. It would also require all juris­dic­tions in the coun­try to submit for preclear­ance any “covered prac­tices,” mean­ing those prac­tices, such as strict voter ID laws and polling place clos­ures in communit­ies of color, that have typic­ally been imple­men­ted for a discrim­in­at­ory purpose or have had discrim­in­at­ory effects.