House Democrats have tapped Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.), to lead their efforts to revise the Voting Rights Act, after the Supreme Court gutted the law’s Section 4 last week.

“I tasked Jim Clyburn of South Carolina to take the lead on this issue to bring together in a bipartisan way the ideas that could meet the criteria, or be a set of criteria that could meet the court’s judgment,” said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi ( D-Calif.), in a press conference on June 27.

“The bill has been reauthorized…most recently in 2006. So, this is fresh and yet they (the justices) think it needs to be changed. Hopefully we can do so quickly, most importantly in a bipartisan way as we did before, with a beautiful spirit of wanting to respect the precious right to vote for everyone in our country.”

In an interview with TheGrio, Clyburn said Democrats are debating a new set of national voting standards to replace the current system that requires part or all of 15 Southern states to obtain “preclearance” before making any changes to their election systems.

Clyburn said such standards could include requiring that every state have a minimum number of early voting days and could extend to redistricting, voter ID laws and other ballot access concerns. Such an approach could positively impact a broader range of voters, he suggested, noting that many of the state voting provisions he found most problematic were not in states covered under the pre-clearance formula the high court struck down.

“Section 4 needs to be written in such a way that covers any state law that is designed to yield a specific result outside of fundamental fairness,” Clyburn said in the interview. He added, “Every state ought to be subject to some standards.”


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO