A bill that would inject more federal control over state-run elections in Alaska was blocked by Republican senators, with the exception of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted with the all of the Senate Democrats to advance the bill.
Since taking the trifecta of power — House, Senate and presidency — Democrats have pushed three bills to weaken the security of elections.
This bill is not HR 1, which was the Democrats’ Number 1 priority when they took over in January. That bill was also known as the The For the People Act, and would have vastly changed the rules around elections, inserting the federal government into what is a states’ rights issue.
The bill under consideration now is the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, also known more commonly as the Voting Rights Act. With Republicans working in cooperation, even with Murkowski defecting, the Democrats came up one vote short of advancing the bill to debate.
Republicans in general have been calling for a trust-but-verify approach to voting to ensure that cheating doesn’t take place. Democrats and the mainstream media call the Republicans’ efforts an attempt at “restricting ballot access” and link it to what they call “false claims by former President Donald Trump” and his supporters about the somewhat incredible 2020 election results.
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Shelby County vs. Holder, struck down various provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a law that forced Alaska, nine other states, and portions of six other states, to submit their election plans and redistricting plans to the U.S. Justice Department for review.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision in 2013, recognized that because pre-clearance so forcefully usurps State sovereignty over elections, Congress would have to show that there was still “blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees,” “voting discrimination on a pervasive scale,” or “flagrant” or “rampant” voting discrimination. None of that has been evident in Alaska, and the only reason it came under that section of the Voting Rights Act is because, at the time, so many Natives in Alaska had a language other than English as their first language and, for years there was an English test that prevented many Natives from voting. But that provision has been gone for decades.
If Democrats and Murkowski have their way, Alaska could once again be colonized by the Justice Department, treated as a state that cannot manage its own redistricting and voting without federal controls.
Tuckerman Babcock, former chairman of the Alaska Republican Party said, “I think we have enough supervision from the federal government. Why would we need more?”
The legislation Murkowski is promoting would flip the 2013 Supreme Court decision, reinstating the DOJ-required pre-clearance of any changes in state voting laws and practices. It would put Alaska’s elections under the control of the same Justice Department that railroaded former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is still the law of the land, and state laws can still be challenged under it.
When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the provisions that had Alaska’s elections under the boot of the Justice Department, then-Gov. Sean Parnell welcomed the decision. Alaska translates ballots into numerous languages and hires language interpreters to help voters each year.