Issue Toolkit:

Stop H.R. 4, a Federal Veto of State Election Laws

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Background information

H.R. 4 is a Leftist scheme to give President Biden’s bureaucrats in the federal government VETO power over state election integrity laws. Biden’s politicized lawyers in the Justice Department would use this veto power to overturn state voting laws they politically disagree with, such as extremely popular voter ID laws.

H.R. 4 would accomplish this by altering and weaponizing the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 for the Left’s partisan political gain.

This is a dangerously effective tactic, because the Voting Rights Act is generally a good and popular law. By stealing its good name for their new bill and partisan power grab, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer hope to gain mainstream America’s support by default.

To understand how the Left intends to hijack the Voting Rights Act, it’s helpful to understand the basics of the original law:

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act made it illegal to deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race or color. Section 2 reinforces and strengthens the protections in the 15th amendment. And importantly, section 2 is still law (as it should be!).

When most people think of the VRA, section 2 is usually what they think of. With H.R. 4, Pelosi seeks to weaponize lesser known provisions of the VRA (sections 3, 4, and 5).

H.R. 4 would change Section 3 to enact a fast and loose definition of discrimination. Under this new “disparate impact” definition, a voting law that applies to all equally, but potentially results in a statistical difference in impact, would now be in violation of the VRA. Under this loose definition, the federal government is given wide latitude to invalide state election laws without showing any actual intent to discriminate.

Furthermore, H.R. 4 would change the coverage formula for “preclearance” found in section 4, which determines which states the federal government essentially has veto power over. The power of preclearance is found in section 5 of the VRA, and it essentially creates a federal veto power over the election laws of certain states.

Important context about preclearance and its history:

  1. Preclearance is the process by which several states with a past history of voting rights violations were required by the VRA in the 1960’s to get pre-approval from the Department of Justice (DOJ) before they changed any state voting law.

  2. Preclearance was originally supposed to expire after five years, but Congress extended it several times.

  3. During the Obama years, Attorney General Eric Holder abused preclearance as a personal veto to stop states from passing common-sense voting reforms and lawsuits were filed challenging preclearance.

  4. In Shelby County v. Holder (2013), the Supreme Court found section 4 of the VRA unconstitutional. Because the formula for selecting states for preclearance had never been updated since the 1970’s, states were being continually punished for 50-year old mistakes that had been long rectified.

  5. After Shelby County, Leftist partisans in the federal government no longer had veto power over state election laws, and states were able to pass many common-sense reforms, like voter ID.

So now, with Pelosi’s partisan power grab in H.R. 4, the section 4 coverage rules are re-written to skirt the Supreme Court’s decision so the federal government would once again have veto power over state election laws. Importantly, to overturn an election law, federal employees would not have to show that the law had any discriminatory effect or intent. Not liking the law would be reason enough.

With Leftist partisans wielding a reinstated preclearance veto-power, they would be able to stop countless election security laws passed by state governments. This would enable the Left to continue practices such as ballot harvesting and the mass-mailing of absentee ballots, even to individuals who did not request them. Voter ID would be gone, and in its place, same-day voter registration would become the law of the land.

Further Reading:

Talking Points

  • Discriminatory election laws are still illegal under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and the federal government already has the ability to enforce section 2, through the courts.

  • H.R. 4 is not about trying to stop discriminatory election laws, as the federal government already has that power. H.R. 4 is about giving unelected federal government employees a veto power (through the preclearance process) to stop any election law they personally disagree with.

  • Under preclearance in H.R. 4, federal employees can overturn a state election law without even making an attempt to show that the law had a discriminatory intent or effect—it’s a true veto power that would be handed over to some of the most partisan and Left-aligned federal employees in the Department of Justice.

  • This law is a partisan power grab by Pelosi and Schumer to give massive amounts of power to unelected federal bureaucrats in the Justice Department who are recruited from the ranks of Left-aligned organizations such as the ACLU, La Raza, the NAACP, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund.

Call Notes

Hi, my name is [FIRST NAME] and I’m a constituent from [CITY AND ZIP CODE]. I’m calling on [MEMBER OF CONGRESS] to oppose H.R. 4.

H.R. 4 is not about trying to stop discriminatory election laws, as the federal government already has that power.

H.R. 4 is about giving unelected federal government employees a veto power (through the preclearance process) to stop any election law that they personally disagree with, such as voter ID.

Voter ID is a wildly popular policy that 75% of Americans support. I don’t think unelected and partisan federal employees should have the power to veto common-sense voter protections that are enacted by elected state legislatures.

Please vote “NO” on H.R. 4.

Thank you for passing along my message. Have a good day.

Social Posts (remember to insert the social handle of your member)

Tweet This:

75% of voters support Voter ID. Many states have listened to voters and passed Voter ID laws. Now @SpeakerPelosi and @SenSchumer want to undo these popular laws by passing H.R. 4.

Tweet This:

[@Member] Vote NO on H.R. 4 — Don’t give the unelected federal government employees a veto power over state election laws #PelosiPowerGrab

Tweet This:

Fact: Discriminatory voting laws are already illegal—section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is still law. The #PelosiPowerGrab with H.R.4 is NOT about stopping discriminatory voting laws—it’s about stopping voting security laws that the Left hates. [@member]

Tweet This:

If the President vetoes a bill, Congress can override it with a two-thirds vote. But under H.R. 4, federal employees will have a veto over state election laws, and there is no override. Why would we give unelected federal employees so much power, with no accountability? This is a #PelosiPowerGrab for the federal bureaucracy. Learn more:

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Sample Letter to the Editor

Don’t fall for the Democrats’ sales and marketing campaign. Under the guise of voting rights, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are pushing a massive power grab for the federal government.

With the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Democrats in the federal government will give unelected federal employees the power to veto state election laws that they disagree with.

This veto power is called “preclearance” and to overturn a state’s law, they don’t even have to find discrimination. It’s a true veto that cannot be overturned—not even the President of the United States has that kind of power!

The fact is, section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 already makes discriminatory voting laws illegal. The federal government already has the power to stop a discriminatory election law.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (or Pelosi Power grab) is about giving the federal government the power to stop non-discriminatory election laws, such as voter ID.

According to a March 2021 Rasmussen poll, 75% of Americans support voter ID—it’s wildly popular. Pelosi and Schumer hate election security laws, but can’t defeat them at the ballot box.

With their new bill, Democrats are selling a scheme to try and defeat election security laws by grabbing massive amounts of power for the federal government.