House panel weighs impact of state voting laws, Congressional redistricting

A House panel looked into the impact of new voting laws passed in more than a dozen states this year and heard concerns from voting rights advocates about Congressional redistricting following the 2020 census population data on Thursday.

It comes just days after Senate Republicans blocked a vote on a sweeping voting rights bill backed by Democrats.

Several Republican-led states have passed laws tightening rules around casting ballots and restricting voter registration this year, which supporters say are meant to ensure election integrity.

Democrats, including former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder who served in the Obama administration, argue the voting restrictions will disenfranchise millions of voters, particularly people of color.

“We’re facing what I would call a sustained coordinated multi-pronged assault that seeks to diminish protections to voters,” said Holder.

Republicans like Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Georgia) defended many of the new laws passed.

“Voter ID laws are very popular and really an important safeguard for election integrity and the confidence for voters in the election process,” said Loudermilk. “Do you or do you not support it and why?” he asked Holder.

“What I oppose is the overly restrictive way in which states, generally Republican states, have indicated that which is acceptable to prove that you are who you claim to be when you want to vote,” said Holder. “If you expand the number of things that somebody can use to prove they are who they claim to be, I could support voter ID.”

Legal experts also expressed concerns about how Congressional districts will be redrawn and warned against gerrymandering.

That’s the process of manipulating district boundaries to favor one party over another.

Voting rights advocates argue this practice has historically targeted and harmed minority communities by watering down their ability to vote collectively.

“Congressional action to preserve voting rights is essential as we commence redistricting and we face the continued false invocation of phantom threats used to justify the targeting of all voters of color,” said Thomas Saenz, President of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.