By Jim Sensenbrenner


Published on February 11, 2014

Regarding your editorial "Voting Rights Rewind" (Feb. 4): Congress has repeatedly reauthorized the Voting Rights Act with overwhelming bipartisan support. The last three were signed by Republican presidents.

I joined 388 of my colleagues in the House to pass the 1982 reauthorization, and as chairman of the Judiciary Committee led the most recent reauthorization in 2006. After holding approximately 20 hearings and assembling a record of over 15,000 pages, Congress decided the VRA was still necessary. The 2006 legislation passed the House 390-33, cleared the Senate 98-0 and was signed by President Bush.

While I was disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder, I see it as an opportunity to address voting discrimination and increase voter confidence in a more targeted way.

The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 does this. You write that the new "formula fails to take into account broader racial progress in all of those states." This accusation ignores that, under the modernized VRA, coverage can only be based on recent voting violations. The new formula is rolling and looks back only 15 years to ensure no state is subject to coverage based on historical discrimination. It is also nationwide in application. The claim that "the liberal goal is to give national politicians more power to play racial politics in a few unfavored states" is false.

By including carve-outs that permit states to enact reasonable voter-ID laws, it recognizes that preventing voter fraud and voter discrimination are entirely consistent goals. Both are essential to the integrity of the ballot box.

Regardless of your opinion, the VRAA is needed to protect Americans' most sacred right.

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