Practice-Based Coverage Would be a Vehicle to Federalize Elections

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled, "The Need to Enhance the Voting Rights Act: Practice-Based Coverage." Practice-based coverage/preclearance is not currently part of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and would be implemented as part of H.R.4.

RNLA member Bryan Tyson explained in his written testimony that the concept of practice-based coverage is expansive: 

The VRAA creates a new Section 4A, which is titled “Practice-Based Preclearance.” This section does not utilize the new formula for preclearance coverage, but applies to all jurisdictions in the entire country. It requires that all jurisdictions obtain preclearance before implementing the following types of changes to elections:

1. Adding seats that are elected at large, if racial groups represent certain percentage thresholds.

2. Converting seats elected from single-member districts to at-large or multi-member districts, if racial groups represent certain percentage thresholds.

3. Any change to jurisdiction boundaries that reduce the minority percentage of a jurisdiction by three points or more.

4. Any change in boundaries of election districts where there has been an increase of a minority group of 10,000 or 20% of the voting-age population.

5. Any change in documentation or proof of identity to vote that is more stringent than the non-photo identification provisions of the Help America Vote Act.

6. Any change in documentation require to register to vote that is more stringent than the date of the VRAA’s passage.

7. Any change that reduces multilingual voting materials or changes the way they will be distributed if there is no reduction or alteration in English-language materials.

8. 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 the period occurring prior to the date of an election,” if racial groups represent certain percentage thresholds.

9. Any change to voter-list maintenance 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” if racial groups represent certain percentage thresholds.

As Ranking Member Mike Johnson pointed out, practice-based coverage would be used as a vehicle to federalize elections.

Both Tyson and Judicial Watch Senior Attorney Russell Nobile illustrated how the current state of voting in America does not require the expansive oversight that H.R.4 would mandate. The reality is that voting rights violations are able to be prosecuted through the VRA as it is currently applied.

Democrats are using the extremely important issue of voter rights to gain as much power as possible.

As Tyson stated during the hearing: "Voting rights are too important to be given over to a partisan political agenda."