On the same day that the funeral of iconic civil rights leader and Georgia Rep. John Lewis was held, Joe Biden, the former vice president and presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, once again endorsed a voting rights bill that was recently renamed in honor of the late congressman.
Biden pushed the bill H.R. 4, once known as the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 and now called the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, via his Twitter account on Thursday. In the tweet, he took aim at Senate Republicans, calling upon them to make good on the words they have offered in the wake of Lewis’ death by passing the bill, which previously cleared the House of Representatives in December by a recorded vote of 228-187.
“It’s time Senate Republicans back their effusive praise of John Lewis with action,” wrote the former vice president. “Pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act.”
Biden’s tweet has generated a significant response on Twitter, accruing more than 11,000 retweets and comments in just over an hour after appearing on his feed. Well over 50,000 users had liked the post at the time of this writing.
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act seeks to shore up portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 after the Supreme Court seemingly invalidated a key facet of the landmark federal-level legislation as the result of its decision in the case of Shelby County v. Holder in June of 2013.
Per the original legislation, states with histories of voter discrimination were prevented from making changes to their laws unless they cleared those changes at the federal level. The later 5-4 Supreme Court decision deemed that the portion of the Voting Rights Act containing the formula for determining which states would be subject to federal pre-clearance was outdated and unconstitutional.
The Lewis Act seeks to modernize the formula for pre-clearance, as well as require officials to publicly announce all changes within 180 days of an election, which would function to ensure that late changes do not adversely affect voters.
H.R. 4 further seeks to expand the federal government’s oversight of constituencies where it has been determined that a substantial risk of discrimination at the election-day polls or during early voting periods may exist.
Voting rights and the electoral process have held a prominent place in the national discussion amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as continuing Black Lives Matter protests and calls for an end to racial injustice. For their part, President Donald Trump and some Republicans have taken aim at mail-in votes.
However, according to Lincoln Project co-founder Reed Galen, Trump’s continued assertion that the mail-in process is regularly “abused by fraudulent voters” is an attempt to erode trust in U.S. elections in light of the president’s sagging poll numbers.