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HR 4 - Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 - National Key Vote

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Title: Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019

Vote Smart's Synopsis:

Vote to pass a bill that establishes new criteria for determining which states must obtain pre-approval from the Department of Justice in order for changes in voting practices to take effect.

Highlights:

 

  • Amends the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to include violations of federal law that prohibit discrimination in voting on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group (Sec. 2).

  • Specifies that states and political subdivisions are subject to preclearance for covered practices if a state and all political subdivisions within the state during a calendar year have had (Sec. 3):

    • 15 or more voting rights violations in the state during the previous 25 calendar years; or

    • 10 or more voting rights violations in the state during the previous 25 calendar years, at least 1 of which was committed by the state itself.

  • Specifies that voting rights violations have occurred in a specific political subdivision if 3 or more voting rights violations occurred in the subdivision during the previous 25 years (Sec. 3).

  • Requires each state and political subdivision to do the following, in order to receive clearance (Sec. 4A):

    • Identify any newly enacted or adopted law, regulation, or policy that includes a voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or a standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting, that is a covered practice; and 

    • Ensure that no such covered practice is implemented unless or until the state or political subdivision complies with this act. 

  • Requires the Attorney General, in consultation with the Director of the Bureau of the Census, to make determinations regarding voting-age populations and the characteristics of such populations, and publish a list of the states and political subdivisions to which a voting-age population characteristic applies (4A).

  • Specifies that in order to assure the right of United States citizens to vote is not denied or abridged on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group as a result of the implementation of certain qualifications or prerequisites to voting, or standards, practices, or procedures with respect to voting newly adopted in a state or political subdivision, the following covered practices are subject to the requirements described above (Sec. 4A):

    • Any change to the method of election:

      • To add seats elected at-large in a state or political subdivision where:

        • 2 or more racial groups or language minority groups each represent 20 percent or more of the political subdivision’s voting-age population; or 

        • A single language minority group represents 20 percent or more of the voting-age population on Native American lands located in whole or in part in the political subdivision; or

      • To convert 1 or more seats elected from a single-member district to 1 or more at-large seats or seats from a multi-member district in a state political subdivision where: 

        • 2 or more racial groups or language minority groups each represent 20 percent or more of the political subdivision’s voting-age population; or 

        • A single language minority group represents 20 percent or more of the voting-age population on Native American lands located in whole or in part in the political subdivision;

    • Any changes within a year to the boundaries of a jurisdiction that reduces by 3 or more percentage points the proportion of the jurisdiction’s voting-age population that is comprised of members of a single racial group or language minority group in a state or political subdivision where:

      • 2 or more racial groups or language minority groups each represent 20 percent or more of the political subdivision’s voting-age population; or 

      • A single language minority group represents 20 percent or more of the voting-age population on Indian lands located in whole or in part of the political subdivision;

    • Any changes to the boundaries of election districts in a state or political subdivision where any racial group or language minority group experiences a population increase over the preceding decade of at least:

      • 100,000 people; or

      • 20 percent of the voting-age population of the state or political subdivision, as the case may be;

    • Any changes to the requirements for documentation or proof of identity to vote such that the requirements will exceed or be more stringent than the requirements for voting that are described in the Help America Vote Act of 2002 or any change to the requirements for documentation or proof of identity to register to vote that will exceed or be more stringent than requirements under state law on the day before this bill’s date of enactment;

    • Any change that reduces multilingual voting materials or alters the manner in which such materials are provided or distributed, where no similar reduction or alteration occurs in materials provided in English for such election;

    • Any change that reduces, consolidates, or relocates voting locations, including early, absentee, and election-day voting locations, or reduces days or hours of in-person voting on any Sunday during a period prior to the date of an election during which voters may cast ballots in such election:

      • In one or more census tracts wherein 2 or more language minority groups or racial groups each represent 20 percent or more of the voting-age population of the political subdivision; or

      • On Native American lands wherein at least 20 percent of the voting-age population belongs to a single language minority group;

    • Any change to the maintenance of voter registration lists that adds a new basis for removal from the list of active registered voters or that puts in place a new process for removing a name from the list of active registered voters:

      • In the case of a political subdivision, imposing such change if:

        • 2 or more racial groups or language minority groups each represent 20 percent or more of the voting-age population of the political subdivision; or

        • A single language minority group represents 20 percent or more of the voting-age population on Native American lands located in whole or in part in the political subdivision; or

      • In the case of a state imposing such change, if 2 or more racial groups or language minority groups each represent 20 percent or more of the voting-age population of:

        • The state; or

        • A political subdivision in the state, except that the requirements under subsections (a) and (c) will apply only with respect to each such political subdivision. 

  • Specifies that any covered practice that has the purpose or will have the effect of diminishing the ability of any US citizen, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates of choice denies or abridges the right to vote (Sec. 4A).

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