Vote Fails on John Lewis Voting Rights Act

By Tanveer Kaur

John Lewis in Selma, Alabama, in 2015 (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call / Getty Images)

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a voting reform bill that Democrats have pushed as a crucial part of their legislative agenda, failed to break a filibuster in the United States Senate on November 3rd, marking another Democratic attempt to enact a voting rights law.


The bill passed the Senate 50-49, falling far short of the 60 votes necessary to break the filibuster. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) was the only Republican to vote for the bill, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has slammed as a “go-nowhere bill” that isn't required.


The act was meant to restore a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which obligated states and localities with a historical record of voter discrimination to seek ‘preclearance’ from the Department of Justice before altering voting laws. This was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013.


Following President Donald Trump's allegations of rampant election fraud, which prompted Republican-controlled state legislatures to implement statute making it more difficult to vote, Democrats have frequently stated that establishing new national voting standards is a major priority. Democrats have been stymied on the subject by congressional Republicans, who argue that the federal government should not dictate matters that should be handled at the local level.