Two U.S. senators, a Republican and a Democrat, asked Congress on Monday to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, as Republican-controlled state legislatures pass measures imposing new curbs on voting.
Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Lisa Murkowski noted in a letter that the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed discriminatory voting practices, was last reauthorized in 2006 with a bipartisan Senate vote of 98-0.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, saying that Section 4, the formula used to determine which states and localities were subject to additional federal scrutiny, was outdated.
“Protecting Americans’ access to democracy has not been a partisan issue for the past 56 years, and we must not allow it to become one now,” Manchin and Murkowski wrote.
Democrats, who hold narrow majorities in both houses of Congress, have passed a sweeping electoral reform bill in the House of Representatives. Manchin rejected that bill as too broad, although even with his support, the measure would likely fall short of the 60 votes it would need to pass the 100-seat Senate.
Murkowski said she had not received much reaction from other Republicans about the statement.
Republican Senator Roy Blunt, who is retiring at the end of his term in 2022, told reporters he thought some Republicans could support voting-rights legislation, although it would be important to look at the formula determining how jurisdictions qualified for additional scrutiny. He said he would be willing to participate in those talks.