Murkowski joins Democrats in broadening support for voting rights measurement
Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski and three Senate Democrats on Tuesday introduced amendments to John Lewis’s Advancement of Voting Rights Act, creating a bipartisan effort to expand support for the measure after Republicans s ‘are opposed to it.
The move came a day before the Senate was due to hold a vote to allow debate on the measure.
The law is part of a Democrat-led effort to again update the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which has been renewed several times since its initial passage.
The United States Supreme Court in 2013 struck down the federal oversight provision of the law and said it was up to Congress to come up with a new formula, using contemporary data, to identify states under federal oversight.
Previously, the Justice Department had regulated elections in states like Alaska with a history of discrimination at the ballot box against minorities.
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Alaska was regulated due to English tests once used to impact the voting eligibility of Alaska Natives. As Congress amended the original law over time, other factors also led to federal surveillance in Alaska, such as provide ballots only in English, even in indigenous villages with limited English proficiency.
Democrats in Congress are prioritizing voting rights measures as Republican-controlled state legislatures pass election-restricting laws, following debunked allegations of voter fraud raised by former President Donald Trump.
Representatives room pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in August, moving it to the Senate. The vote was divided by party, with 219 Democrats in favor and 212 Republicans, including Alaska Representative Don Young, opposite.
Republicans have opposed efforts to update the 1965 law, saying the federal government should avoid interfering in state elections, according to news accounts.
Murkowski said in the statement released by Leahy’s office on Tuesday that the new amendments are a starting point for bipartisan consensus. The proposal integrates the Native American Voting Rights Act and is designed to overcome long-standing obstacles that Native American Indians and Alaska Natives face in the voting process, the Murkowski statement said.
“Voting rights are fundamental to our democracy and the way we protect them defines us as a nation,” she said. “I have supported this particular legislation at previous congresses and have continued to work with my colleagues on it, as it provides a framework through which legitimate voting rights issues can be addressed.”
Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, was not available for immediate comment on the measure, a spokesperson for his office said on Tuesday.
The Native American Rights Fund, which has represented Alaskan natives in voting rights disputes with the state of Alaska, welcomed the proposed changes in a declaration. They will help ensure that Native Americans have equal access to voting resources, the group said.
“It is important to note that this bipartisan voting rights legislation includes provisions that tackle the unique barriers that are erected to deny Indigenous voters the right to vote,” said Jacqueline De León, lawyer at Native American Rights. Fund.
In October, Murkowski joined other Senate Republicans in opposite a procedural vote on the Freedom to Vote Act, a separate Democrat-led measure to reform elections. Murkowski said the measure required bipartisan support and would have caused “micromanagement or federalization” of states’ electoral activities.