The Bulletin Board

ACLU criticizes New Hampshire AG for signing letter threatening legal action over voting act

By: - September 20, 2021 1:03 pm
A sign saying vote here in a red arrow that points toward a line of people in a building

Election officials take an oath that they will perform their duties properly when they are sworn into office. (Drew Angerer | Getty Images)

New Hampshire is one of 23 states, each with a Republican attorney general, that signed on to a letter threatening legal action if the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act becomes law.

Devon Chaffee, executive director of the ACLU of New Hampshire, called the threat “unconscionable.”

“Attorney General [John] Formella’s opposition to this critical legislation sends a starkly disturbing message to Granite Staters, especially those of color, that their voting rights are up for the political taking. We should all be deeply concerned,” said Chaffee in a written statement Friday.

According to the ACLU, more than 400 “discriminatory, anti-voter” bills have been introduced across 48 states this year. The organization points to the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act as a proposal “that would ensure due process, equal protection, and the right to vote without racial discrimination.”

In their letter, the Republican attorneys general said the act would give the federal government authority over state elections, which they equate with “federalizing the election system.” They argue that this amounts to “unconstitutional federal intrusion.”  

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, also called H.R. 4, would restore parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were struck down in subsequent court decisions, including Shelby County v. Holder in 2013 and Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee in 2021, when the court ruled that Arizona’s election policies did not violate the Voting Rights Act.

The bill would restore a preclearance requirement for states in the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits changes that affect voting without first receiving federal approval.

Last month, the federal legislation passed the House along party lines, 219-212. It would have to pass the Senate before it could be signed into law by the president.

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee reported on energy and environment for New Hampshire Bulletin. She also previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.