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What is this new voting rights act about?

The House passed a new voting rights act. But what is it about?

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., returns after she and the Democratic Caucus held an event outside on the For the People Act of 2021, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., returns after she and the Democratic Caucus held an event outside on the For the People Act of 2021, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

Associated Press

The House of Representatives recently passed a new bill that would expand voting rights, according to The New York Times. But it’s unlikely the Senate will pass it.

HR 1, explained

According to Vox, the HR 1 bill — an anti-corruption and voting rights reform bill — passed for the second time in two years.

  • The new law would add new requirements that would weaken restrictive voter ID laws.
  • The bill would also create an automatic voter registration program.
  • Early and mail-in voting options would be expanded.
  • The bill would make it harder to review voter rolls.
  • Lastly, it would also restore voting rights for former felons.

And there’s plenty more inside the bill. Per Vox: “There’s a lot of ground covered in its nearly 800 pages, but some of its key points are creating a national system for automatic voter registration, putting in transparency requirements for political advertising, and instituting nonpartisan redistricting commissions to end partisan gerrymandering.”

Why it matters

Research has said these changes would increase voter participation, according to The New York Times.

The bill would also target “dark money” in politics, according to NPR. It would require organizations to disclose large donations to politicians, which would reveal information that was previously not disclosed.

Why won’t it pass the Senate?

It’s unclear if the bill will pass the Senate, though. Simply put, there’s not a lot of Republican support. Republicans said the bill “limits political speech and represents an overreach and a federal power grab that Democrats are advancing in an effort to gain an advantage in elections,” according to CNN.

Similarly, Republican states are looking to create “state bills that would make it harder to vote by imposing new voter ID requirements and curbing access to early and mail-in voting that several states adopted or expanded last year to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” per CNN.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) told Vox that she hopes to bring the bill to the floor for a vote to see what support there will be. Former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell never let the bill reach the Senate floor for a vote, according to Vox.

However, Democrats hold a majority in the house since there’s a 50-50 split with Republicans and Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, has the deciding vote.