tv Legal Experts Testify on Voting Rights Act CSPAN July 15, 2021 3:35am-6:04am EDT
>> let me first apologize to my colleagues and the witnesses for my delay. by a number of circumstances, including most recently, a stopped subway trim. if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong but i want to thank all of you for being here today. yesterday, president biden issued in effect a call to action and -- an urgent plea to
protect democracy amongst an onslaught of state law restricting voting rights. he declared that we are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the civil war. we must have the will to save and strengthen our democracy. during the civil rights movement, the president and president johnson made a similar call to action. in the summer of 1965, state troopers attacked john lewis and 600 others as they crossed the bridge in selma, alabama in peaceful protest of discriminatory voting laws. in the wake of the attack, as the nation came together, president johnson called for in end to voting scrimmage and in america. two days later, congress announced it would take up that call and let us/and.
five months after bloody sunday, the voting rights act was passed with bold bipartisan support. the purpose of today's hearing is to heed president biden's call. that call to action to protect our democracy just as congress heated president johnson's call in nine to 65. we are going to score the real world impact of 2 deeply flawed anti-democratic supreme court decisions, undermining the voting rights act. shelby county in 2013. this morning, i met with a number of deeply courageous members of the texas house of representatives. they shared their harrowing story of the impact of the supreme court
-- of the supreme court's recent decision in texas. which has some of the most extreme voting restrictions in the country. efforts to purge the voting rolls including efforts to purge tens of thousands of newly naturalized citizens eager to exercise their constitutional right to vote as americans. efforts to criminalize the right to vote, putting people in prison for improperly filing a provisional ballot. efforts to limit voting hours, and mail-in balloting which are critical for opportunities to vote for communities like medical professionals, individuals serving in the military, and veterans. sadly, there are similar stories from states across the country.
and those stories include the threats of criminal prosecution and intimidate the exercise of fundamental rights and what so deeply impressed me about the stories i heard this morning from those members of the texas legislature, and a number of them are here in the audience today, is the effect on their exercise of rights their exercise of rights as american citizens. we cannot let these attacks on democracy stand. before shelby county and brnovich, the voting rights act was immensely successful. the department of justice and american voters were able to use the voting rights act to halt well over 1,000 discriminatory election rules. the voting rights act became known as the crown jewel of the civil rights movement. and in subsequent decades, the voting rights act was reauthorized five times, five
times, with bipartisan stoert.upport. beginning in the 1980s, the courts began to chip away on its protections. on july 1 the supreme court struck its latest blow, getting the power of section two. the 6-3 partisan decision was a stunning display of judicial overreach and activism. the text of section two of the voting rights act plainly require the members of every racial group have equal voting opportunities. and yet the court's decision in brnovich is completely untethered from the text that congress enacted as justice kagan said in her powerful dissent "the majority did not like the statute congress wrote," so it, quote, "wrote its own set of rules limiting section two from multiple direction." brnovich's equally devastating
5-4 decision in 2013, following shelby county states have been , free to pass voting restrictions without preclearance process to assess whether the changes are racially discriminatory. and they have, in 2021 alone, 17 states already passed 28 laws to restrict voting rights. approximately 21,000 polling places nationwide that serve voters on election day have been eliminated since shelby county. and millions of voters have been purged from the voter rolls. the supreme court is at a low point of legitimacy when its decisions undermine the institution of our democracy. in shelby county and brnovich, the supreme court has undermined
the voting rights act to fight against discrimination in voting. the right to vote is not and it should never be a partisan endeavor, not in this great country, the united states of america. but if the senate is unable to meet this moment and reauthorize the voting rights act because of republican opposition to voter protections that have been passed with overwhelming bipartisan support for over 50 years, we are forced to consider all of our options, including eliminating the filibuster. indeed, i have long been in favor of eliminating the filibuster. it was one of my first votes as a member of the united states senate. i was one of only 12 that voted to eliminate the filibuster. but i have seen over the past ten years, one by one, many,
many of my colleagues reach the same conclusion that reform is necessary. because the truth is that voting rights are truly bipartisan. they are widely supported throughout american society on the left, the right, center, in the private and public sectors. polling shows the vast majority of voters support equal access to the ballot box. just today more than 160 companies have released a public letter of support for the john lewis voting rights advancement act. protecting the right to rote is a matter of living up to america's founding ideals that our government, quote, "derives its just powers from consent of the governed." as a tsunami of voter suppression bills crashes on this nation, my deepest hope is that today we can renew a
bipartisan commitment to protecting voter rights in this country. i turn to the ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it has long been said that hypocrisy is the attribute that vice pays to virtue. in few areas is this more clearly true than when it comes to voting rights. today we see democrats giving long emotional speeches about protecting the right to vote. but today's congressional democrats do not believe in the right to vote. they do not believe in democracy, and they are championing efforts to take away the right to vote from american citizens. the rhetoric that is being used by joe biden, boo chuck schumer, by other democrats, is consistently inflammatory. indeed one of the phrases they like to use today is jim crow 2.0.
ironically, and inadvertently, there is some truth to what they are saying. because we do have legislation pending before congress that would, indeed, be "jim crow 2.0." it's worth asking what was "jim crow 1.0?" "jim crow 1.0" were a series of racist laws that were written by democrats, that were enforced by democrats, whose purpose was to prevent the voters from ever voting democrats out of power. jim crow was offensive. it was racist. it was bigoted. it was wrong. and it was the democratic party who wrote, enforced, and implemented it. so what's "jim crow 2.0?" it is the latest efforts of democrats to write laws to prevent the voters from voting democrats out of power. before the senate is pending s-1. what the authors have
orwellianly entitled the for the people act but many are rightly calling it the corrupt politicians act. the only objective of the corrupt politicians act is to keep democrats in power for the next hundred years, to take away the right of american voters to vote democrats out of power. how does it do that? corrupt politicians act would strike down every voter id law in the country. 80% of americans voters support voter id, 60% of african-americans support voter id. what would the corrupt politicians act do? repeal every one of those laws. mind you, this is where democrats are saying "we support the right to vote, so we are going to take away the decision made by the voters to enact voter ids laws." what else does the corrupt politicians act? 29 states prohibited ballot harvesting. ballot harvesting is a corrupt practice where you send operatives to collect the
balance of others, so update operative, for example -- so they paid a pretty from the dnc, for example, would go collect ballots from seniors, some of whom may no longer be confident to make a decision. the reason 29 states prohibited it is that it invites fraud. a scrupulous operative, it is very simple for that operative with someone with diminished capacity for them to vote the ballot the way they want it to. and if someone has to marinate to vote for the other side the corrupt operative can just throw that ball in the trash and never mail it in. if you actually cared about the integrity of elections you would want to stop ballot harvesting. what does the corrupt politicians act do? strike down every law that prohibits ballot harvesting. and mandates it nationwide. if the democrats who say they protect the right to vote believe it, why do they want to strike down what the voters
chose to adopt? which is protecting the integrity of their elections? the corrupt politicians act automatically registers to vote every single person who interacts with the government in any way. that means if you get an unemployment check, a welfare check, if you have a driver's license, go to a public college or university, bingo, you are automatically registered to vote. what is the predicted and, in fact, intended consequence of that? that millions of illegal immigrants would be automatically registered to vote. in fact, the corrupt politicians act explicitly immunizes the state officials who would be registering illegal immigrants to vote. now, when you register millions of illegal immigrants to vote , you are stealing the right to vote from american citizens. that is not protecting the right to vote. that is stealing the right to vote. the corrupt politicians act mandates that felons all across the country be allowed to vote.
because democrats have made the decision that if millions of illegal immigrants and millions of felons and murderers and rapists and child molesters are voting, they believe they are likely to vote for democrats. just a moment ago the chairman said that voting rights legislation should not be partisan. well, the corrupt politicians act is nakedly partisan. and what really admits the entire joke, federal election commission, when it was enacted in the wake of watergate, it was designed to be bipartisan, three republicans, three democrats. what does the corrupt politicians act do? makes it partisan, two republicans and three democrats, so that chuck schumer would have the federal elections agency as an attack dog to use as a political weapon not to protect integrity, not to follow the law , but to ensure that democrats can never be newton, and voters don't have a right to vote. desk to ensure that democrats
can never be beaten, and voters don't have the right to vote. when congressional democrats talk about shelby county and wanting to make every jurisdiction in america subject d.o.j. preclearance, understand what that means. that means your state legislature at your home doesn't have the ability to pass laws concerning voting without getting an unelected bureaucrat in the department of justice to sign off on it first. mind you, this is after joe biden is nominated and senate democrats have confirmed extreme partisans to the department of justice. kristen clark, who is a left wing radical activist, would be in charge of voting laws all across the country, with the ability to stop any elected legislature from passing laws concerning voting. i ask you, if you actually believe the rhetoric from democrats that you wanted to protect the right to vote, why the hell would you say you can't vote in the state legislatures unless an unelected democratic -- democrat who is not accountable to the people says it is ok? this is not about the right to
vote. we heard some stringent rhetoric about the supreme court's burn -- brnovich decision. i tell you, i was proud to lead an amicus brief for 11 senators in the case. state of arizona quite reasonably prohibited ballot harvesting because ballot harvesting invites fraud and is corrupt. and the supreme court, by vote of 6-3, agreed with the position that i advocated on behalf of 11 senators that states have the authority to protect the integrity of their own elections. we should protect everyone's right to vote. and i will note, by the way, the civil rights decision legislation that has been adopted, the civil rights act of 1964, a significantly greater percentage of republicans voted for it than did democrats. 82% of republicans in the civil rights act of 1964, 60 9% of -- 69% of democrats did. we should protect the right to vote, and that means not
striking down common sense voter integrity laws. that means not subjecting the state legislatures to oversight by unelected bureaucrats. that means protecting the right to vote for everyone regardless of race, regardless of ethnicity. and one of the ways you protect the right to vote is enacting common sense protections to stop that right from being stolen. and unfortunately, congressional democrats are not interested in doing that. >> thank you, senator cruz. i understand some of the other members of the committee may want to make an opening statement. senator leahy is recognized. sen. lee: thank you. thank you, senator. -- sen. leahy: thank you. thank you, senator. i thought now we have heard the reality, i look at my state, which has some of the most open
voting anywhere, both in how you can qualify and who can vote. we do everything possible for open voting, times of voting mail-in voting. , does this get a partisan result? well, last year we elected a republican as governor, a democrat as lieutenant governor. and it goes back-and-forth. and it is also the only state that has elected democrat to the one united states senate. the only state in the union. that's me. i have no problem with the way we do it. but we also have one of the highest percentages of voter turnout of any state in the union, because people know they can vote, they are encouraged to vote and they will be able to vote, old, young, no matter
what their nationality, they can vote. and it really frustrates me when i see so many states who seem to be doing everything possible to limit the ability of people to vote except for the particular ones they want. mr. chairman, thank you for holding this hearing. about what we have to do to restore the voting rights act in response to the supreme court's sustained effort to cripple it. the voting rights act has enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support, democrats and republicans alike, for virtually its entire existence. so as an affront to the world, two partisan decisions making our democracy accessible for
many who have been wrongfully set out, it is in these decisions, being shut out again. in some ways the decision few weeks ago didn't surprise me. it involved the same playbook as the disastrous shelby county decision of 2013, where a partisan majority of the court replaced congress's clear, bipartisan will with its own, and gutted section five of the rights act. like shelby county, the brnovich decision ignored the well-established intent of congress and invented seemingly out of thin air new hurdle s around section two of the vra. let's be clear gutting section , five and section two of the vra is not some exercise in judicial nipplings around the margins, where the vra can somehow improve just a few
things. section five and section two are the vital organs of the law. section five empowers the justice department to stop discriminatory changes to voting procedures from taking effect. something that was reported by democrats and republicans in the past, no matter which party held the presidency. section two empowersed ordinary americans to seek redress in court against voting changes discriminating against minority voters. so the partisan majority of exactly what it was doing by nullifying section five and section two of the act. without them, the voting rights act is on life support. we the people are left are very few ways to protect your precious right to vote. so of course, the decision could not have come at a worse moment. empowered by the shelby county decisions, fueled by the former president's big lie that the 2020 election was stolen from
him, dozens of states rushed to enact voter suppression laws. with each passing week literally tens of thousands of americans are having their right to vote chipped away. there was already a four alarm fire for america's voting rights before the brnovich decision. with the brnovich decision, it took away one of the last remaining tools to power the place. vra's section two effectively declared open season to suppress americans' voting right with impunity. so i don't think we should sit idly by about this. those who argue restoring the vra is a partisan exercise could use a little history lesson. since its original enactment in 1965, the vra's core provisions
have been reauthorized repeatedly. five times. five times, with overwhelmingly republican and democratic votes in congress. president nixon, reagan, george w. bush, assigned the vra for with radiation into law, touting the importance of the landmark law for our democracy. i voted to reauthorize it four times throughout my service in the senate, and i stood there with both democrats and republicans on the floor of the senate doing that. in fact, i went back to see how many republicans voted the same way i did and how many democrats. here is what i found. the most recent voting rights reauthorization was in 2006. the vote was 98-0. . i repeat that, 98-0 so i.
. think it is pretty clear that every democrat and every -- 98-0. so i think it is pretty clear that every democrat and every republican on the senate floor voted for it. you have a lot of the republican senators serving today who voted yes. i suggest everybody check their facts before calling this a partisan effort. it is not. what is partisan the court's , decision. let's get to work. i authored the john lewis voting rights. i hope our republican friends will join us in reauthorizing that as they did before. i will put my whole statement in the record. mr. chairman, i appreciate your courtesy letting me pop in and out of this hearing. there was an intelligence matter that i couldn't leave. thank you. chair blumenthal: thank you,
senator leahy. i will introduce the witnesses. jose garza, who joins us remotely. he has more than 40 years of experience practicing law, dealing almost discursively with federal law. his practice area is focused mainly on government entities and federal litigation including first amendment and 14th amendment issues, districting, federal voting rights, and civil rights. mr. garza recently retired as the litigation director for texas rio grande legal aid, inc., and is currently voting rights counsel for the mexican-american legislative caucus in private practice as the law office of jose garza. mr. garza has represented latino voters in voting rights litigation including state-wide redistricting cases. mr. ken cuccinelli is a lawyer, conservative politician, and
national chairman of the election transparency initiative coalition formed in , a 2021 to restore confidence in elections and eliminate proposed reforms by democrats. mr. ka-ching nelly served in the -- mr. cuccinelli served in the trump administration as the act oog director of u.s. citizenship and immigration services. and then as the acting deputy secretary for the department of homeland security. mason janai nelson is associate director, counsel of the naacp legal defense and education fund, a round scholar of voting rights and election law, nelson continues to produce cutting edge scholarship on domestic and comparative election law race and democratic theory. she received a b.a. from new york university and a j.d. from ucla's school of law. upon graduating from law school, ms. nelson clerked on the northern district of illinois and the 8th circuit.
russell nobile is senior attorney with judicial watch, a conservative, non-partisan education foundation whose mission is to promote transparency and integrity in government, politics, and law. prior to joining judicial watch, he was a lawyer in private practice who focused on government litigation, commercial matters, and commercial litigation. he is an active member of the federal society for law and public policy. he was appointed to the united states election commission's board of advisors. professor richard hassan is chancellor's professor of law and political science at the university of california irvine. he is a nationally recognized expert in election law and campaign-finance regulation. he writes as well in the areas
of legislation, statutory interpretation remedies, and , torts. he holds a b.a. degree with the highest honors from uc berkeley, and jd, ma, and ph.d. in political science from ucla. after law school he clerked on the 9th circuit and worked as a civil appellate lawyer in private practice. we will begin by my swearing in the witnesses as is our custom on the judiciary committee, and then proceed to opening statements. if you would please rise. do you solemnly swear that the testimony that you will give will be the whole truth, the truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god? thank you. mr. garza, if we could begin with you. i know that you are testifying
remotely as are mr. nelson and mr. hassan. >> chairman blumenthal, ranking member cruz, thank you so much for allowing me to come before the committee and testify on these important issues. what i would like to do this afternoon is focus on the impact of these changes of these laws on my clients. i think it's important to start, for instance, with the impact of shelby county. in 2013, with the decision in shelby county, taking up section five of the voting rights act, the voting ideal -- the photo
i.d. law in texas was illegally enforced. a lawsuit was filed on behalf of four minority texans. they represented them in that case. and in the process of going forward with that case, after testimony and discovery and decision was issued declaring that the statute though it was written, discriminated against latino and african-american and elderly voters. the district court enjoined the enforcement of that law. the state of texas appealed that decision to the fifth circuit and secured a stay. one of our clients was margarita
o lara. he was an elderly, extremely poor texan from the valley of texas. he testified before the court and the court sided to his testimony regarding the difficulty that he and his family had financially. extreme poverty. and the burden that it would take for him to secure a new birth certificate to be able to secure the i.d. that was required by the state. that was part of the evidence that was presented. in interviews with us mr. lara , and the other plaintiffs that we presented to the court talked about the importance of voting to those individuals. talked about going on election day to the local polling site, where everyone knew each other, where he was greeted with people that knew him, and the pride that he took in going to cast his ballot on election day.
there was an election that was scheduled right after the decision came out, and mr. lara was scheduled to vote with the injunction that the court had entered. however, with the stay, he was unable to vote in that election. that was the first election in his long life that he ever missed. we did secure, eventually, a positive decision from the fifth circuit who found that the voter ids law -- the photo i.d. law -- the voter i.d. law violated section two of the voting rights act. unfortunately, became the decision became time, and before a proper remedy could be imposed, mr. lara passed away. so here we have a real life, a
gentleman who was a veteran, who enjoyed voting as a function of his citizenship more than anything else, and he missed the last election of his life because the law that had been found to discriminate against minorities under section five and blocked by section five, was allowed to go forward because of the shelby county decision. and even after a district court determined that it violated section two, was allowed to go forward again by a stay of that order from the fifth circuit. the assault on minority voting that i witnessed in the years of litigation continues today with restrictive voting laws that are being proposed in the texas legislature, limiting the time for voting has no purpose,
except to limit the number of people who can vote. thank you. chair blumenthal: thanks, mr. garza. mr. kucinelli. >> chair, ranking member cruz -- the mental fish could you turn -- chair blumenthal: thank you . could you turn on your microphone, please. mr. cuccinelli: thank you for inviting me here today. i'm ken cuccinelli. i previously served as the attorney general of virginia and currently serve as the national chairman of the election transparency initiative where we work every day to help improve the transparency, security, accessibility and accountability of the elections in every state so every american regardless of party or race has confidence in the outcome of every election. to begin with, as states seek to address the shortcomings in their own election systems it would help to get behind the
hyperbolic and libelous rhetoric that each and every rule or procedure is not only an onerous restriction but is allegedly knee jerkingly racist particularly given in america today it is easier to vote than ever before. imagine an election with no rules. just a table with a stack of empty ballots. nobody is watching the table, nobody dispensing the ballots. anyone who comes along can fill out a ballot and since no one is watching, as many as they choose, drop those ballots in the ballot box. for good measure, we'll mail a blank ballot to every game listed on our outdated poll book and let anyone return those ballots to unsecured drop boxes. no one would trust the outcome of that supposedly unrestricted voting process. we need rules. time, place, and manner rules. only citizens can vote. a reasonable rule. citizens have to register, and registrars have to keep poll books up to date. a reasonable rule. one ballot per registered voter. a reasonable rule.
enforceable transparency is required so that everyone can see the election is clean and secure from start to finish, every step of the way. a reasonable rule. ensure each motor is they say they are. reasonable rule. the carter-baker commission recommended it and overwhelming majorities of americans support it. nevertheless, photo i.d. -- voter i.d. has been particularly political sized by the radical left propaganda machine. despite six months of media-assisted assaults on the basic common sense need for voter i.d., the american people have been unmoved in their overwhelming support for this basic election integrity measure. it might explain why some very high-profile propounders of the false quote "voter id is racist " propaganda like stacey abrams have suddenly flipped flop to get on the right side of the polling.
so, on the basic mechanics of how elections should be best run, when you take the constitution discussion out of the overcharged political atmosphere of the day, americans tend to agree on what it takes to run good elections. we have seen that one doesn't need fraud to shake confidence in an election. does anyone remember bush v. gore? in 2000, florida's election system was held up before world as a sad joke. incompetence, election breakdowns, untrustworthy ballots and machines, and haphazard and inconsistent rules. americans' confidence was shaken. in 2000, the left was screaming its lack of confidence in our elections. again in 2016. again in 2018. highly regarded pollster scat scott rasmussen wrote an article this year in which he recorded that while 32% of americans lack confidence, that america sore in the correct person as president following the election of 2020, 26% held the same view after the election of 2016.
and there is not much overlap between those two groups. here in the u.s. senate, you can learn from florida how the people of florida responded to the shocking revelation of just how poor their election system was in 2000. they set about fixing it. they fixed their laws and procedures and in many parts of the state they improved the quality of their personnel. states can and are working to upgrade and improv their -- improve their election stems. but it is important that washington not step in to dictate its own one size fits all approach that is really more about control of elections by one party than achieving the confidence of the american people in the outcome of our elections. the first and most important thing the senate can do is stick with the voting rights act in its current form, to fight actual discrimination where it occurs, as noted in brnovich, and not go beyond it to a partisan federal takeover of our
elections. one need only look back at florida 20 years after bush v gore. when much of the country suffered election breakdowns in their states, florida, the third-largest state, and the largest swing state, smoothly tallied its votes with no significant complaints from either side. citizens can have confidence in their elections, but only if the federal government doesn't force them to eliminate basic rules of fair and accurate elections, as is proposed with s-1, and is rumored with the next rounds of the john lewis bill. thank you. chair blumenthal: thank you very much, and i apologize that i omitted among your qualifications that you are a former attorney general, which is particularly egregious for a former attorney general myself. mr. cuccinelli: yes, i appreciate that. [laughs] chair blumenthal: we have
another attorney general on the dais here. we are this the middle of votes right now. i am going to ask senator cornyn to preside while i go vote. and senator cruz will be voting as well. in order, they will be ms. nelson, dr. nobile, and professor hassan. -- professor hasen. and will be back, i would hope, by the time you are done. i know the testimony is excellent, i have read it, and i look forward to questions. thank you. >> thank you, chair blumenthal. my name is jenae nelson. i am the associate direct council of the naacp elected official defense fund founded by thurgood marshall and leading the fight to defend the voting rights of black citizens for over 80 years. our country's ongoing and sordid history of racial discrimination in voting is threatening the
future and functioning of our multiracial, multiethnic democracy. since the infamous 2013 shelby county decision disabled section five, voter suppression against black voters and other marginalized groups has metastasized at alarming rates. now the court's most recent decision threatens section two, a signature lumbar force of national reach that immunizes the right to vote from laws based on discriminatory intent or that produce discriminatory results on account of race. the brnovich decision improperly and illogically departs from the plane test of section two. it ignores precedence and severely curtails the broad application congress intended. and as justice kagan stated in dissent, the new guide posts proposed by the court's
conservative majority are, quote, "mostly made up factors at odds with section two itself, and mostly inhabit a law-free zone." in other words, burno vich's -- brnovich's guideposts are unmoored from both text and truth. for example, the majority discounts the express text of section two which requires an equal opportunity to vote and instead asks whether a state's entire system of voting is sufficiently open to all. contrary to any prior interpretation of section two, and to several other factors that originated in this very body, aptly called the senate factors, which have guided section two litigation for decades. another guidepost invites courts to compare a challenged voting restriction to burdens in 1982, nearly 40 years ago, when congress amended section two to
correct the court's previous misreading of the statute in the city of mobile v. bolden. this benchmark flouts the text and purpose of section two, which is to prohibit unequal voting opportunities between present-day racial groups, not to impose 1982 as a reference point for evaluating current laws. another brnovich guidepost suggests government actors can disproportionately burden the voting rights of historically disenfranchised racial groups so long as governments raise a theoretical, even if unsubstantiating interest in combating butter fraud. this guidepost threatens to return our nation to the time when states adopted facially neutral voting laws under the pretense of the purity of the ballot, but with the intent of excluding black voters from the political process. not only does the guidepost find no support in the vra test, it
has no basis in the factual record. arizona could not point to any voter fraud to justify its challenge laws. a study of the 834 million ballots cast in elections between 2000 and 2014 found only 35 credible allegations of in-person voter fraud. by contrast, there are voluminous examples of proliferating racial discrimination in voting during the same period. in short, this unscrupulous decision disregards the purpose of section two and, it erektsz -- and it erects an indefensible barrier for plaintiffs, simply because a majority of the court fundamentally disagrees with congress's use of its enforcement powers to legislate broadly to protect the right to vote from racial discrimination. it is nothing short of an attempt to rewrite and weaken section two, resulting in incalculable costs to our democracy. since the disabling of section five, section two has been the
primary defense between --primary defense against discriminatory vote denial and abridgment. since 202012 alone, we filed five cases under section two and two more this year. in the first five years following shelby, an unprecedented 61 lawsuits were filed under section two. it has been eight years since the chief justice expressly invited congress to update section five's preclearance formula to reflect modern conditions. brnovich has now issued its own tacit invitation for congress to act. and it is within congress's power no less today that it was in 1982 to reject the supreme court's latest misreading of section two and issue bold legislation to protect right to vote. in a week where texas senate legislators took the ram measure of leaving a special session to protest a discriminatory voter suppression bill and beseech the federal government to intervene, the urgent need for
congressional action to update the voting rights act with a clear and unequivocal mandate to protect the right so vote from partisan express and the -- from partisan excess and the corrosive stain of racial discrimination could not be more pronounced. as we approach the first anniversary of the passing of the late congressman, civil rights stalwart and voting rights martyr john lewis, i urge you to do everything in your power to protect the right to vote, which he described as precious, almost sacred, and the most powerful, nonviolent tool we have in a democracy. thank you. sen. cornyn: thank you very much. mr. nobile. i did pronounce that correctly? >> correct, senator. sen. cornyn: please proceed. mr. nobile: thank you.
my name is russ nobile, i would like to take a moment a privilege here with the introduction that got left off. i actually have enforced section two and section five in hundreds of cases around the country. before i went into private practice i was a trial attorney at the department of justice which was enforcing the two statutes in question today. i have already submitted my written testimony and i previously testified before the house so i will try not to repeat the things i previously put into the record. but there is one thing i would like to emphasize from my written testimony and that is the new standing that will be given to the attorney general under the proposed john lewis act. it is going to be a sea change for the department of justice. there is virtually no limit on it. i would urge and caution the senate to look at that seriously. i have scoured the internet and i read this stuff vigorously and i have yet to find a single explanation from anyone as to why the attorney general, after 200 something years, needs to suddenly start
weighing in on 14th amendment cases. as you begin looking and trying to devise how to respond to the shelby county and brnovich cases, i would stress that both cases present distinct questions and have distinct risk and opportunities there. some of the discussion sort of blends the two cases together but they are two distinct cases bringing too disstankt opinions. -- two distinct opinions. over the last 15 years you are seeing two trends in election law. you have seen one trend with basically this growing sort of what i now realize is critical race theory interpretation of voting rights act. then also, you have this explosion of vote denial cases that you didn't have until approximately 2008. vote denial cases -- well, until recently i never thought about how to characterize some of these troubling interpretations of the voting rights act, but now having seen and read more materials, i understand where they emanate from.
in fact, you know, the people i previously worked with, they would promote these theories and of course i was there happy to explain why they probably weren't supported by the law. to be sure, the people that did support these that i worked closely with they were sincere in hoping to enforce the law to improve racial relations. but that isn't the case for everyone there. i firmly believe you are coming up with these of and guard interpretations of the voting rights act, either in good faith or bad faith, they both undermined the voting rights act and undermine the ability to enforce civil rights laws. a good example of this mindset was the department's handling of the 2011 redistricting case in texas, which i actually was a member of the trial team on. as you may recall texas opted to , file for preclearance in washington, d.c., and there was a trial there. at the outset, the department used the term of which districts
qualified for protection. as part of the position the department took -- i was part of the case, i want to be careful not to disclose any privileges, they lumped together asians, blacks, and latinos into a nonwhite district that was an anti-coalition district. what do these groups have in common? they voted democrat. in the primary, in the general elections, in elections in other offices, they did not vote together. but they got lumped together. so by doing that, you basically turn the section five district into an ideological district. it is not a protected district based on people being clipped or packed. you turned it into an ideological district. and of course one of the things that was lost in the discussion
is that minorities are not fungible, marginalized groups that can be lumped together on the basis that they are not white. [indiscernible] coalition district subsumes the entire groups of races and you basically mix everyone together based on who they etiologically -- etiologically support. at some point the vra ceases to protect minorities and becomes an ideological district. the other trend it is proliferating is the vote denial cases which brnovich touched on. i am running out of time. i want to make sure i hit
everything. the brnovich case addresses, that is a new standard under section two. there was no previously a standard for vote denial cases until brnovich came about. of course it involved regulations that controlled who could handle a ballot and where you voted. those were regulations that have actually been around for quite some time. thank you very much. sen. cornyn: well, i will start -- sorry, we have another. >> excuse me, professor hasen. i apologize, we are doing this in a hybrid fashion and i did not realize we had not gotten to you. go ahead. dr. hasen: thank you very much. thank you for this opportunity to appear before you today to speak about the supreme court's
recent decision in brnovich versus democratic national committee a case which eviscerated section two of the voting rights act outside the context of redistricting. the opinion by justice samuel alito for a six justice conservative majority i goers no the relate history of the voting rights act and that warts congress's intent. -- and thwart's congress's intent. let me begin with some history. a key component of the act that congress passed in 1965 called section five required states and localities for the history of racial discrimination and voting to ask either the department of justice or a three court panel in washington, d.c. for permission to change anybody numeral. this preclearance requirement required jurisdictions to show that minority voters were not made worse of the change. congress intended to prevent states from passing discriminatory rules and prevent backsliding for the rest conditions for voting, a concept that came to be known as non-retrogression. section five helped until the 2013 shelby county decision held it was no longer constitutional because it impinged on a state
's right of equal 70. it did not deal with discriminatory voting laws already on the looks. in the years after passing the putting rights act, some tried to use section two to attack mr. voting rules. the supreme court allowed this world that such challenges required proof of discrimination. congress agreed with that decision. it was enough to show that the political processes leading to the subdivision are not equally open to participation of members of the protected class, in that members have less opportunity to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice. the amendment created a broad statute with congress" to look at the totality of circumstances
including social economic circumstances that could make minority voters face extra barriers to voting, as well as the neutral justifications that states could advance for passing restrictive voting rules. although the supreme court interprets section two in interpreting cases, it was not interpreted in vote denial cases in which a state or locality makes it harder for minorities to register to vote. lower courts had read section two to set forth a top standard for overturning a state law but one that could be made in public cases. for example, the fifth circuit, voted the country's most conservative court, held that texas's very strict voter i.d. law indeed violated section two. when texas amended its law in response to the lawsuit to make it less onerous, the fifth district court held it no longer violated section two. rather than focus on the totality of the circumstances test written into the law, and conduct a local functional
inquiry as explained in the key 1982 senate report accompanying the passage of the voting rights act amendment brnovich offered , nonbinding so-called guideposts for decisions. the act more as roadblocks for voting rights plaintiffs. giving restrictive voting laws numerous ways to defeat section two claims. one guidepost holds that if a voting practice was not in practice in 1982 -- nothing in section two's text, history or precedent supports a 1982 benchmark when early voting was scarce and volter registration difficult. this is in fact the opposite of the non-retrogression principle applied in section five cases. non-retrogression principle cap states from making voting worse. brnovich encourages holding back the standards set in 1982 as a baseline.
the brnovich guide post turned the totality of the circumstances tenuousness standard on its head. under tenuous ness, if the state --, the state would actually have to prove that this was the real justification, and not a pretext for crime. as justice kagan explained in her dissent, throughout american history election firms have a certain antifraud interest in using voter suppression laws. but the brnovich decision guideposts is opposite. it repeatedly says voting laws could not be justified even when a state could not point to any fraud in its state. congress should reverse the statutory decision through carefully crafted legislation
test as congress has done in the past approving voting rights renew and extensions. legislation will have to consider the scope of congress's power especially because the statements in brnovich appears like a threat to find new voting legislation unconstitutional. thank you for your time. i look forward to the opportunity to answer questions. sen. cornyn: thank you very much professor hasen. ,i want to begin perhaps by asking you -- and in chair blumenthal: i want to begin perhaps by asking you about the chief justice's role. because i know that you are familiar with the history here. in 1982, john roberts was an attorney and special assistant in president reagan's department of justice. it was the same year that congress was debating amending section two to correct a problematic supreme court decision, city of mobile versus bolden.
in the city of mobile, the supreme court held that voters challenging voting restrictions under section two must meet the purden of showing that the law was adopted with a discriminatory purpose. it was insufficient, according to the court's decision, to show that it had discriminatory impact. in 1982, john roberts wrote, i think it was about 25 memos to the attorney general which are in the public archives , advocating against an effects test as it was known. ultimately, his plan filed in 1982, the court agreed with the city of mobile and passed a revised section two that made clear that plaintiffs could challenge voting restrictions by showing they had discriminatory impact. so, professor hasen, in what sense is the court's decision in brnovich a vindication a then -- a vindication of then-attorney, now chief justice robert's policy preferences which congress rejected outright in revising section two in 1982?
dr. hasen: thank you for the question, senator. i do believe that john roberts, from the 1980s, and through his history on the court, has shown a kind of hostility towards broad protections for racial and ethnic minorities under the voting rights act. as he said, -- as you said, back in the 1980s, he was the point person for the reagan administration. it was clear that congress was going to reauthorize section five of the voting rights act. and the big fight was over with the language of section two of the voting rights act was going to be. there was big pressure to overturn the statutory decision in the city of mobile which had effectively rendered section two meaningless as a standard. and congress and especially the senate in its senate report went , out of its way to create a functional localized tallitive
circumstances test to try and figure out, minority voters being deprived of the same opportunity as of the same opportunity as other voters to participate in the political process? john roberts was against that. he lost that battle and congress passed a very broad section two. in 2009. in the northwest austin case, and in 2013 in the shelby county case, he showed his hostility to broad voting rights protection, eventually leading the court in striking down the preclearance provision. in brnovich, although he was not the author of the provision, he essentially got what he wanted in 1982, just many decades later , which is a return to something that the intent test. although section two is not completely eviscerated, the burdens, the roadblocks that the court has put in front of minority plaintiffs should not be underestimated. chair blumenthal: thank you. mr. garza, i would like to ask
you about the extraordinary events taking place in texas. but i want to preface it by quoting an exchange that took place in the supreme court hearing on brnovich between justice barrett and michael carbon, which represented the arizona republican party. the question by justice berreth -- justice barrett was , quote, "what is the interest of the arizona rnc in keeping out fof precinct ballot rules on the books?" and michael carbon's answer was, "because it puts, us, the republican party, at a disadvantage relative to democrats. politics is a zero sum game." politics is a zero sum game in that event and in that case, the pretty obvious acknowledgment
was that the goal was, in effect, suppression of votes. so my question to you is, in texas, for a second time in the last three months, democrats in the state legislature walked out to prevent passage of a voter suppression bill put forward by a republican majority. several of those representatives visited me and my office this morning. the proposed legislation has a number of provisions, limiting early voting, id requirements, and limits on vote by mail. in your experience, how would enacting laws like this one affect the minority communities, communities of color in texas, the clients you represented throughout your career? dr. hasen: to begin, this
dating purpose for enacting these provisions is to avoid motor product, but there has been no evidence associated with that. -- voter fraud. but there is no evidence associated with that. the measures being limited and wrister to buy proposals, enacted by local election provincials -- officials, like opening the timeframe for people to vote, that has increased voter turnout, especially among populations of color. it is pretty -- there does not seem to be any nonpartisan routing for the -- grounding for the purpose behind these provisions. they will have an adverse impact on minority voters and they make
it harder to vote. that seems to be their purpose and that seems to be consistent with the history in texas, where voting is more considered a privilege than a right. i have seen over and over again, election processes and rules being interpreted and used in a manner that adversely impacts voters of color. chair blumenthal: thank you. i will turn to the ranking member for his question. >> thanks, mr. chairman. it is good to see you again. 64% of voters, including a majority of black and hispanic voters, want to strengthen voting safeguards that prevent fraud, and that is what your organization is dedicated to doing. if the corrupt politicians act
were to pass, it would strike down every voter id law in the country. the light -- right to vote? >> no, and undermines it. i think it undermines confidence in the outcome as well. which is a problem. this is a lawyers committee so i will use a court analogy. it is not enough that we produce the highest percentage of accurate outcomes possible, and just outcomes, it must be understood in viewed to produce outcomes so americans can have confidence in the justice system. the symmetry with elections. it needs to not only work correctly, producing an accurate count of legal and eligible voters, but it needs to be seen to do so by winners and losers so that we can have confidence in the outcome of our elections. i rattled off several 2016, 18, and a discussion going 20 and
some places, it has worked on both sides that have a concern. there have been good reasons over the years and i would say the reference to fraud and it since it is texas, the current attorney general of texas, respectfully, spoke recently about 500 plus different voter product -- fraud prosecutions in texas. >> how is that possible? democrats tell us voter fraud never occurs in any circumstance of the universe. >> it has. the congress and the house reran an election in 2019, it goes both ways. that was republican operatives committing fraud in north carolina. this is not singular. but protection of voting -- >> and that was ballot harvesting, wasn't it? >> it was. absentee votes have always been
particularly vulnerable to tactics. >> soto 19 ballot harvesting, the -- so 2019 ballot harvesting, protecting those laws, would striking down ballot harvesting protect the right to vote? >> absolutely not. >> we've seen months about overwrite dust of overwrought rhetoric about the texas and georgia election integrity laws. a minute ago we had house and across from the legislature fled the state of texas, they were hiding out in washington and engaged in a political stunt, what is interesting about the attacks on that legislation is they are strikingly missing specifics. for example, the texas election integrity law that is being debated right now requires voter id for mail-in ballots. does that affect the right to
vote? >> i would note it equalizes the protection and in person voting as well. something happening in other parts of the country with the growth of mail-in voting. the texas lobbying debated prohibits -- >> the texas law being debated prohibits people from -- mail-in ballots when they do not ask. >> >>. correct. >> does that protect the right to vote? >> absolutely an example, in one state they mailed out ballots and hundreds of millions were returned with the suppose it voter not at that residence. that's an enormous error rate to lob opportunities at clearly
ineligible voters. >> the texas law right also mandates cameras and live streaming inside of ballot board meetings and mandates signature verification in large counties. does that protect the right to vote? >> in my experience as an attorney general, when you provide that kind of transparency in a wide variety of circumstances, not just elections, we can talk about it in the sex offender registries, when they know they are being watched they behave better. it's an excellent tactic. >> we have heard some overwrought rhetoric about the supreme court's decision in brnovich, which was a 6-3 decision, it was not 5-4, and we have heard democrats on this committee suggesting the decision was outrageous, it was
too broad, it was contrary to law. in my correct to think the biden department of justice filed a letter with the supreme court in brnovich in which the biden department of justice reviewed its prior brief in that case and said, and i can quote, the department has now concluded that, although it does not disagree with the conclusion in that brief, neither arizona measure violates section two's result test. so the biden doj agreed arizona law prohibiting valid -- alec harvesting is not violating the voting rights act. >> that's correct. >> explain why democrats are saying this is a horrible, radical, right-wing conclusion that upholding the arizona law can't be done consisting with
the voting rights act. is the biden department of justice a right-wing radical group? >> probably not. time will tell. i feel confident that they are not. the rhetoric we are getting from -- >> the rhetoric we are getting from our colleagues come to expect, i ask that they exquisitely agree the biden laws withstands voting rights, ask a be entered into the record. >> without objection. >> thank you. >> senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> for professor hasen, in this opinion, a justice claims a
dutch and then he introduces guide that could apply to the law, things like the size of the burden imposed by a challenge voting rule and the degree to which a voting rule departs from what was standard practice. section two was amended in 1982. what impact are these guideposts going to have on the ability to successfully bring claims of section two of the voting rights act? >> thank you for that question, senator. i do believe these five guideposts are going to make it significantly more difficult for either the department of justice or private plaintiffs to win their suits. and we've got to understand these guideposts are, as justice kagan said in her defense, lofty . if you are trying to figure out what did congress mean and it passed section two's revised --
we know what congress means because in that senate report, it gave a list of a believe 13 factors to consider. they do not draw from those doctors even though all of the lower courts had done so. he made up these factors and they became less guideposts and more as roadblocks or defenses that states can put out if they try and pass strict of voting laws. the key point to understand is, that for a court sensitive to contextual is him, to what the words mean, we know what these words meant. this was a court that was not doing that. it was trying to roll the clock back and make it harder for voting rights point us to win lawsuits. >> these guide points are not found anywhere in the text of section two. >> that is correct. >> this is why justice kagan has
called textual. justice alito, who tends to send out signals like us, which results in more losses brought by people who they expect when it gets to the supreme court will be decided in their favor, so when the court does decide, are they not writing well -- l aw? >> it's a semantic question as to when courts write law versus interpret law, but the court did not give a fair interpretation of what section two means. it is even worse. two justices, gorsuch and thomas, suggesting that private plaintiffs cannot even bring suits under section two, which is contrary to how we have understood for much of decades and justice alito made it harder to claim intentional ritual
determination under section two. it has made it significant harder, and it is not at all connected to the text or history or the president and how the dutch precedent -- precedent. >> for you, professor, mr. garza, it is after shelby county they passed voter suppression laws and over 400 of these kinds of laws are being considered or connected in various states. -- enacted in various dates. what do we expect to see as the supreme court has significantly weakened section two of the voting rights act, and why is it so reported we enact the john lewis voting investment act and the people act in the midst of hundreds of dust for the people act in the midst of hundreds of
voter suppression laws in 40 plus states? professor hasen? mr. garza? dr. hasen: i will say briefly the most important thing congress can do in terms of the voting rights act is preclearance, which is what the john lewis act says, but congress has terms of revitalizing section two. as congress told the supreme court in 1982, that it misinterpreted what meant, but it needs to reverse that and impose estate or that is actually one that can be enforced and protect the voting places across the country. >> to the other two panelists want to win -- weigh in? my time is running out but i hope the chair will allow the other two witnesses to come in. -- comment. >> i'm happy to respond.
section two and section five work in tandem to protect our democracy on the worst threats that emanate from the history of racialized voter suppression in this country. section five with the measure that helped to prevent discrete nation before it began, and section two was the sweeper, even the discrimination that got through section five or that emanated from jurisdictions that were not covered by section five were able to be attacked and challenged in court through section two. as a result of the chair blumenthal: -- brnovich case, there are more barriers than before me know section two was never a replacement for section five. it is protracted and as mr. garcia was saying, elections
come and go and voters lose the ability to have fun mental balance in elections when we rely solely on section two. now we have a section two that is even more difficult to enforce. we need the for the people act and the voting rights advancement act to restore robust protections of the voting rights act. and to set national standards for basic ways in which americans can cast their ballots and have faith they will be counted on an equal basis. >> mr. garza, would you like to add anything? >> i would echo what they have indicated. i would also point out -- i'm sorry? i would also point out there has already been an avalanche of voting changes that are being proposed in response to these
modifications of the voting rights act by judicial decree. this last decision by the supreme court is just culmination of a number of cases on the impact of section two and the ability of plaintiffs to bring section two cases. >> the chair has left so i would like to call -- would you like to ask a question? >> thank you. we issued a newsflash. lawyers disagree about a supreme court decision. it happens every time the court issues a decision. lawyers have different opinions about the correctness of the announcements -- analysis and
the outcome, but as former justice jackson said, the supreme court is not -- is not final because it is right, it is right because it is final. under our system, the supreme court is the last word on interpreting our constitutional laws. i want to just ask a few questions, a lot of discussion about the shelby county case. 2013. i was here in 2006 when we reauthorized the voting rights act. i think one of the most important pieces of legislation ever passed by the united states congress. and the beauty of the voting rights act is actually worked, as demonstrated in chief justice roberts opinion. the gap between participation and white voting majority participation went to almost zero. in 2020 in texas, we had 56
percent of registered voters cast their ballot. -- 66% of registered voters cast their ballot. a historic number of african-american and hispanic voters participated in the election. which means -- leads me to the conclusion that anyone who wanted to cast a ballot had ample opportunity to do so and did so in a robust fashion. but in the shelby county case, chief justice roberts called this preclearance requirement of state voting walk changes an extraordinary -- riveting under the constitution. as he pointed out, the constitution itself embraces this notion of equal sovereignty among the states and the federal government. obviously, the federal government under the supremacy cause has the authority to pass laws like section two of the voting rights act, which remains
applicable to the entire country and all of the states. but section five was very different. it gave the federal government the authority to preclear or not , with state voting laws without offering real justification other than they disagreed with it. and this, as i said, was termed an extranet remedy. the problem that the supreme court identified is that congress did not update the 40-year-old formula for which states would be affected by the preclearance requirement. if it had, it would have reflected this basically no real difference between minority voting in 2000 -- 2015i guess it was, and the difference between black, hispanic and anglo voting in that year. i conclusion is the voting
rights act worked pretty darn well. but in order to game the system, congress did not update that formula and used a 40-year-old formula which did not reflect the current reality, and it also did not apply to formally across the states. different states where -- even in different counties were subject to different requirements. the update of section four to reflect the current reality, but the fact of the matter is if congress did not update the formula to reflect the current reality there would be no justification. as chief justice roberts'opinion indicates, this preclearance. do you agree with my interpretation? would you like to correct or clarify? >> i agree it would like to embellish, the chairman used a descriptive example from the south and the civil rights era
that culminated in the voting rights act. it simply does not exist in america any longer, and chief justice roberts said that in the shelly county case. the voting rights act works. the preclearance, i will use the past tense, worked. the test, like literacy tests that existed, the heart of, pull taxes put in place covered by dust and some of the states covered by preclearance, were wiped out and eliminated. and the barriers to registration and participation were wiped out or eliminated. did it take time for black citizens in those states to register up to the level of the rest of the country? yes. but that happened decades ago. included before 2006, by the way. we have had over 60% motor participation in every -- voter participation in every election since 2004 and you have to go back decades before 2004 to find
that same a compliment. it worked, that was recognized in shelby county and one of the reasons shelby county and brnovich are correct is because the supreme court was dealing with facts and not hysteria, which we are hearing a lot of in condemning these cases. >> if shelby county did not change the racial participation of hispanics and minorities, and obviously since 2013 there has not been a preclearance requirement even for the state that were previously affected, it seems to me this is no longer about race. or voter suppression. and more about political power. senator cruz did a good job of explaining the various attempts to hijack the state election. one thing you left out is the fact that taxpayers would be required to finance elections of candidates that they disagree
with on the policies. i think on a 6-1 basis, for every dollar a candidate raises, the taxpayer would have to pay in to that election campaign six dollars and finance the election of a candidate they ardently disagree with. let me ask one last question about these so-called voter suppression laws. in texas, we have 17 days of early, in person voting. in connecticut, the chairman's state, they have zero days of early, in person voting. do you believe connecticut is suppressing minority voting by having zero days of early voting as opposed to the 17 days that are available in texas, or is there another explanation? >> let me put it broadly.
if they were redoing the formula for section five, new england would be patient zero. massachusetts, connecticut, the data shows the racial disparities in turnout and registration is worse there than anywhere else in the country. >> thank you. senator klobuchar is, i understand it, next, remotely. >> thank you very much, thank you to all of you for being here. my state has the highest voter turnout in the country persistently, and we have elected democratic governors, republican governors. i guess one of the things i learned from that is what is most important is that people vote and they feel like they are part of the democracy, and what really concerns me about these efforts which are blatant attempts to limit the freedom to vote, is there is literally
nothing around the foundation of our country. i would start with you, mr. garza, because i met today with a number of texas legislators along with senator warnock and senator merkley, because senator merkley and i lead the for the people bill. which provisions of the build being considered in texas are you most concerned with question mark --? mr. garza: it's a bad bill all the way around. there are provisions limiting the timeframe for when people can vote. i think that is bad. there was a misstatement made about how local elections -- elected officials are prohibited from sending ballots to voters. actually, they are prohibited from sending applications for mail-in ballots.
those actions are crucial, there are efforts than -- then that intimidate local election officials from trying to help people vote. assist people in voting. >> isn't there also the fact that if you have more than three people you're taking to the polls you have to -- ? >> there are restrictions on assisting voters to the polls and assisting voters at the polls. >> and defining your disability? is there something in there on that? >> yes, there are additional affidavits that need to be filed by voters. i think all of the things included in the bill, things that have been tested and have increased voter participation. there is no evidence of voter fraud regarding these matters,
there is evidence of increased voter participation, and those are the things being limited. >> miss nelson, and is along these lines that we have identified a lot of these issues, georgia passed a law that is unbelievable and some of its provisions. how does the for the people act, we know the john lewis act will help in one important way, which is identifying those policies and states that engage in discriminatory conduct and going forward, which is one of the issues, it would be forward-looking for the justice department to -- for approval. but the for the people act is grounded in the constitution. the provision in the constitution that has never been doubted says that congress can make and alter provisions governing federal elections.
it's one of the things that interests me so much about the bill. can you talk about some of the important protections in this and how it would create some basic, national standards for voting instead of this mess, including how we count the ballots after in some states, including blue states, waiting and not counting them until after the election is over and everyone is kept in suspense for weeks? anyway, go ahead. >> it is a comprehensive and expensive piece of legislation that equalizes voting across all of the states. the senator made the point for me by saying there is dust early putting in texas and none in connecticut -- early voting in texas and none in connecticut. we have learned over the course of several decades at any opportunity for eligible americans to vote only enhances our democracy. it only invites more people to exercise their fundamental, constitutional right and it is something we should all be encouraging. therefore the people act does
that by creating a baseline of two weeks of early voting across the country. it also creates a program of automatic voter registration, so that only eligible americans will be automatically registered. it takes the onus off of everyday americans to have to register themselves, and unlike what senator cruz said earlier, it does not allow people who are not eligible to vote to be registered. it is limited it also includes same-day registration, as well as online registration. and includes a number of other provisions, including welcoming returning citizens back into our electorate after they have served their time. these are all democracy-expanding provisions that we now know 67% of voters support. unlike much of the rhetoric we've heard today, the principles of the for the people
act are overwhelmingly supported by the american electorate. and that includes 56% of republican voters, 68% of independent voters, and 77% of democratic voters. this shows that this law is not a partisan issue. it's not a partisan -- it is not partisan propaganda. it is an american issue and it strengthens our democracy across the board. >> i would note your point about people voting after they have completed their sentences, their prison sentences. florida, while electing republicans statewide, actually voted overwhelmingly, i think it was 65%, to allow people who had completed their prison sentences to vote. and so i think one of the points we want to make here and that i made as chair of the rules committee is that this you have just done. there is significant bipartisan support as we saw during the
pandemic for people voting safely in the way that they would prefer. and that's the core of this bill. that's why i know we will eventually be successful. so, thank you very much, all of you. >> thank you, senator klobuchar. senator lee. >> mr. cuccinell, you served as the attorney general the state of virginia before the shelby case and after the shelby case. what can you tell us about your experience with the section five preclearance process prior to the shelby decision, and then tell us about your experience complying with section two in virginia after the shelby decision was rendered. >> of course there's always the, at least theoretically, unreconcilable dichotomy where section two legitimately demands that race not be taken into account in establishing voting laws and procedures, and then section five demands
preclearance states take race into account in, for instance, redistricting in particular. so after shelby county, a couple of the small number of d.o.j. section two cases caught pre-clearance states, texas was one, in a situation where under shelby county, they weren't supposed to taken race into account, but it was explicitly done, so it was a catch-22 at that time. that has gone away for the next set of redistricting. the burdens of doing this, of complying with preclearance, is pretty extraordinary. with over 10,000 elections in this country, if you move your polling place -- and i don't mean you, senator -- in virginia where i was, from the fire house
to the school house, had you to get federal permission. if you moved it from the cafeteria to the gym you had to get preclearance. >> why? >> everything provided preclearance. there was no detail of your election system too small to be demanded to be precleared by the federal government. and of course it is partially a deterrent to making any changes. and so evolution of state systems under that circumstance is slower than it would otherwise be, and that's to the perspective of good governance, running state well. >> as i read hr4, i read it to require preclearance states base the on allegations not proof of voter -- could it be every point is preclearance. >> seems to be the point. especially with a 25 year look back. >> so, wouldn't that
dramatically exacerbate the problems for the attorney general? >> it would exist for every state. all it takes is allegations by attorney general or settlements. the easy way to get state into preclearance under the circumstances under hr4 is to sue small election jurisdictions which can't afford to litigate, settle in ways that are not disadvantageous to them, and that settlement counts as one of the strikes against that state and that locality for bringing it into preclearance, with 15 of those over 25 years, then that state is in preclearance. and it had nothing to do -- nothing to do with disparities, or discrimination based on race or any other reason. >> mr. nobile, is there any data that suggests combatting state
enforced voter discrimination cannot be accomplished on case by case basis under the voting right act? >> no. that's what the act suggests, you had section five, when section five went away, when it was initially enacted you always had the permanent provision of session two. >> was your experience in the voting rights section of the department of justice consistent with what mr. cuccinelli described pre-shelby and post-shelby? >> it gets pretty granular. the supreme court has intervened a few times and said which way it should go but in one case, alabama i think, they sued over budgetary changes. it get that's intimate into what a jurisdictions does. that's not a section five change but that should give you some insight how granular it will get. >> now we've dissected the fact that potentially every jurisdictions in america could be subject to preclearance.
>> i would add that hr4 has two forms of preclearance, the national version and the traditional version, and that sometimes gets mixed up. it's got national coverage for election integrity measures and a new triggering mechanism for traditional section five. so everyone is getting covered regardless. and some people might be covered by both. >> they might be covered in both respects. in your opinion, what are the section two violations that are so rampant and pervasive as to warrant pre-clearance? is there anything analogous to conditions that we saw with the initial enactment of the voting rights act and the application of section five? anything like that? >> not currently. i mean, of course as mr. cuccinelli mentioned, settlements are a very thin mechanism for triggering mechanism. i represented the state of
mississippi and some voting rights cases. they can cost millions of dollars and a lot of cases don't involve a dissent decree or showing in court. >> do department of justice attorneys -- or, did you see department of justice attorneys communicate with outside groups when making decisions whether to bring any of these cases? >> yeah. i mean, they would always go solicit information or insight or views from advocacy groups on section five. some of the other stuff, the influences, honestly, they know how to do it. they've been doing it a while, and they've had personal relationships with all these people. they would pick up the phone and call them and they would be expedited. a lot of it spelled out in the report of 2013 of which i was there and can corroborate
virtually everything in it. >> in your view, is the voting rights section sufficiently non-partisan, that you could say that they could make these decisions without any appearance or reality of being outcome-driven or politically-motivated? >> i mean, it's not non-partisan. as a practical matter, it's just not. can they set that aside? there's some people in that section that are pathological ly incapable of setting aside their views. >> ok. >> senator lee, we're going to have a second round. i want to enable senator padilla to go, and i will call you back. with the ranking member's permission. senator padilla. >> thank you, mr. chair. i know our time is limited and the hour is long, but i wanted to at minimum get in one question directed at professor hasin. professor, justice alito, like
many of my republican colleagues, has held himself out to be a champion of textualist judicial philosophy. the basic emmis of the philosophy is that judges should start with the word of the statute as they would be understood at the time they were written, and if they are clear, go no further. any additional analysis would step beyond the role of a judge and is considered, quote, inappropriate judicial activism. but in writing the burnovich majority opinion, justice alito reached a conclusion entirely divorced of the actual text of the voting rights act. analysis laid bare that for the majority of the supreme court,
textualism only applies when convenient to reaching the desired case outcome. professor, can you explain how his opinion effectively ignores the text of section 202 of the voting right act? >> thank you, senator. so, the first thing i would say is that justice kagan's opinion in the dissent i think is a much more faithful interpretation of the words of the context in which they were written. justice alito has not been as strong of a textualist as other conservative justices. when you think of justices, gorsuch and thomas especially, they signed on to this opinion, this was a 6-3 opinion. the six conservative justices, including three appointed by trump, has been strong textualists.
justice kavanaugh wrote an article embracing it. yet this abandons textualism. they came up with guideposts that have no connection to the text of the statute, or even the president, -- the precedent, which is something they will often look to. or even the earlier versions of section two. again, this part of the act was rewritten in 1982 because the supreme court got it wrong in 1980 in the city of mobile versus bolden case, when court said section two didn't cover discriminatory results. congress clearly put it back in and any textualists would understand that as justice kagan explains in her dissent, the first question is are they treated worse, and if you can say they were treated worse, that's what should be charge of that. and justice alito was smoke and
mirrors to make it easier for states to defeat section two claims in this area. >> ok. i have one quick question for all five of the witnesses. it is a simple yes, no question. i ask that you each respect my question with a simple yes or no response. the preface of the question is this. when i was in high school government class, i remember our teacher teaching us that our democracy works best when as many eligible people participate. did my high school teacher get it right? yes or no. professor hasin. >> yes. >> miss nelson? >> yes. >> mr. garza? >> yes. >> mr. cuccinelli? >> yes. and with confidence and transparency. >> mr. noble.
>> yes. >> thank you. i mean, it seems like a simple concept, but i ask it for the record because i've heard far too often, not just from several of my republican colleagues this year, but for many years from republican leaders, including elections officials across the country, this supposed philosophy of all we want the to do is make it easier to vote but harder to cheat. the data suggests we've got the harder to cheat down pretty good. every study, every investigation, has not only documented but quantified voter fraud in america is exceedingly, exceedingly rare. what my colleagues seem to have forgotten about is the first part of their mantra, the easier to vote piece. i know this is not a hearing on the for the people act, but as
the former secretary of the state of california having not just championed but successfully implemented a lot of the measures called for in the for the people act, policies like automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, no-excuse vote by mail, the ability to choose voter location in their county most convenient to them, if that's their choice, same-day registration, and more. we know that -- it's not just good for the voter in terms of improving ballot access, actually these policies taken together also help improve election security and protect the integrity of our election. so, yes, election integrity is a concern and a responsibility, but if we all agree with my high school teacher, and all of you said yes, government has role and possibility in facilitating that participation of all eligible voters.
and that's what should be driving the action of congress and state houses today. thank you. mr. chair? >> thanks, senator padilla. senator lee, i interrupted you, and if the ranking member has no objection, i'll let you continue. >> i'm -- i'm stunned with the suggestion that was made by one of our colleagues moments ago, with the involvement of one of our witnesses. to the effect that justice alito used textualism and originalism as a pretext in order to uphold reprehensible voting practices, this is simply not true. it is not only not true, i believe that statement was made with reckless disregard for its truthfulness. if you are going to come in here and assail one of the finest jurists that have ever served on the highest court in this country, you better be prepared for it.
look, you might disagree with the decision as far as a policy outcome. you might even disagree with the way he read it. i don't. he got it right. but don't come in here and say that because you disagree with it, you think he's using it as a veneer, as a pretext, to getting away with something reprehensible. that's not fair. that's not accurate. you cheapen this entire process when you do that. so, i hope that those who make that suggestion will apologize and retract what they said because it is wrong. not just factually incorrect, but it's morally wrong. don't do that. that's not what happened. you know that's not what happened. now look, we've been told repeatedly over and over again that the last election was the biggest election turnout in history.
the most diverse electorate in history. and feverish cries of discrimination and voting has been relentless in reaching a feverish pitch, so much they're causing people to not only depart from the facts and law, but from basic standards of human decency. in light of overwhelming proof that minorities are voting, and that they are voting in record numbers, i am completely baffled by the hysteria of the left over the state of voting in this country. i see no evidence demanding a federal takeover of elections, nor do i see any authority to do what they are doing. the constitution, whether you like it or not, is something we have all swore to uphold and defend. you cannot treat it like an inconvenient truth, it is not, it's the law. it doesn't empower us to take over elections. likewise, the vast majority of americans support common sense
reforms to election laws requiring voter identification, banning ballot harvesting, securing drop boxes, and yet the left has lost its mind because the supreme court held that common sense reforms in arizona do not violate the voting rights act. and they don't. the text makes that very clear. certainly it cannot be that any voting requirements are unacceptable, and yet that's exactly what we heard ad nauseum from the left since day one of this congress. and it's to the point that an activist d.o.j. has taken to harassing the states. by bringing frivolous cases against them, for trying to do what americans have asked them to do, to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. so, if we're told we can't make
even these basic reforms to ensure the integrity of our elections, then none of our votes mean anything and we're all disenfranchised. i want every legitimate vote to count, and that can't happen if we refuse to allow states to make these common sense, nondiscriminatory reforms to secure elections. that is, make no mistake, what this is about. and, look, you can't step in and try to impose what really would amount to a defacto nationwide pre-clearance standard. and expect that that's going to pass constitutional muster. people are trying to characterize this as if we were living in the immediate post or pre-post jim crow era, that is
not where we are. the very same practices that prompted pre-clearance and the need for pre-clearance in the 1960's are not there. section two is still in place for when actual instances of discrimination take place. and those are adequate remedies. i have yet to hear a single explanation from any advocate of hr4 as to why those are inadequate. i have yet to see a single shred of evidence indicating there are so many section two cases mounting and going unaddressed and unresolved as to warrant defacto nationwide pre-clearance. we can't let this happen. it's not constitutional. and the arguments we just heard about justice alito are patently wrong and unfair. thank you. >> thank you, senator. we have a big difference of
opinion, but i just want to go back to what the supreme court said about pre-clearance. not that it was unconstitutional in striking it down in shelby county, but that it wasn't needed anymore. in fact, chief justice roberts ' majority opinion in shelby county acknowledged that pre-clearance had worked. senator cornyn, i think, here just a little while ago said pre-clearance worked. none of them said it was non-constitutional. >> to be clear that's not what i'm saying, i'm saying all pre-clearance was and is. hr4 is. >> but going back to the supreme court's opinion, justice roberts said, quote, conditions have changed, end quote. and in the south there was no longer any need for it.
frankly, as the late justice ginsburg said in dissent, quote, throwing out pre-clearance with when it's worked when it makes discriminatory changes is like throwing away an umbrella in a rain storm because you're not getting wet, end quote. well, now we're getting wet. in fact, in the wake of shelby county, numerous states rushed to pass restrictive laws. law that previously restricted access to the ballot, that had previously been blocked through the pre-clearance process. including stricter voter i.d. laws, restrictions on early and absentee voting, and elimination of voter registration opportunities. i'd lake to ask miss nelson, because you've litigated around the country, what's been your experience in the wake of the shelby county decision?
what have you seen? >> in the wake of the shelby county decision, we've seen a rise in voter suppression that is absolutely stunning and that is just an assault on the progress that the voting rights act made over decades. section five took away the basic filter in jurisdictions with a known history of racial discrimination to ensure that those jurisdictions would not continue to discriminate on the basis of race. we clearly do not agree with the outcome of the shelby county decision, but it must be reiterated that the shelby county decision was very clear on the point that section five is constitutional. it struck down section four, which is the trigger for section five, and chief justice roberts invited congress to update that
formula to ensure that it reflected modern conditions. that is exactly what the voting rights advancement act does. it updates the voting rights act with modern conditions and questions about jurisdictions and findings, not allegations, actual findings of discrimination, and concessions of discrimination, to ensure that only those jurisdictions that continue to discriminate on the basis of race are subject to federal preclearance. it is unconstitutional, under the enforcement powers of the 14th and 15th amendment, to require racial discrimination to submit voting changes for preclearance. it is simply an evaluation, a question of whether these new changes will have a discriminatory impact. it's not punitive. it's not a finding in and of itself. it's a way for the federal government to ensure that our
elections are free of racial discrimination. in the absence of section five, we've seen countless violations of the voting right act. the same day that the shelby decision came down, the state of alabama, the state of texas, resurrected voting laws that had been found to be discriminatory under section five. they resurrected them and began the process of implementing them. and lo and behold, they had the discriminatory impact that was predicted. we have seen copycat legislation following the end of section five, and we've been litigating furiously to try to beat those discriminatory laws back. but litigation, as i mentioned before, is not a remedy. because elections occur and elected officials are installed and those decisions that were made in context of racial discrimination cannot be undone.
and that is why it is imperative that this body move forward at the invitation of chief justice roberts, and now the at invitation of the court based on in its attempt to weaken section two, that it move forward with clear legislation that is a mandate to protect the right to vote by strengthening section two. >> thank you. i think you have made, really very clearly, the point that is paramount here, which is that our goal is to restore a pre-clearance process under section five, to restore section two to what it was before it was eviscerated, and the john lewis voting rights advancement act, which would accomplish those goals, is supported by a broad away of business,
community leaders, and political officials. and to that end, i want to put into the record a letter that's been signed by 160 such companies, major companies in the country, urging passage of the john lewis voting rights advancement act. that concludes my questions. do you have any questions, senator cruz? >> thank you, mr. chairman. just a moment ago, the chairman said that the burnvich session eviscerated section two of the voting rights act. mr. nobile, i want to confirm what we talked about earlier. is correct that the biden justice department agreed that the arizona provisions being challenged were consistent with and satisfied the voting rights act? >> it is correct. and if i can add one point,
there's a lot of talk about the five circumstances that justice alito put in his opinion. those are the extent of any burden, departure of any historical benchmark, significance of any disparity, the opportunities to register -- the other opportunities to register and vote, and the significance of the state entrance. that is section two, 101. none of that is anything new. everybody that brings a section two case, you look at the size of disparity, look at the history, look at the burden, you look at the other opportunities, every section two case you do that. in a dillution case it doesn't matter because it is a different metric. but this argument that alito deviated from the text is sort of unfounded. sen. cruz: mr. cucn
you tell this committee about actual jim crow lows, how do -- how do they operate? >> sure, i have to say when the president of the united states throws around the cleaning up of elections by saying it's the new jim crow, it's offensive to the real thing. it's like people claiming racism as an a excuse to accomplish other goals and also diminishes occurrences of actual racism. i'm from virginia, i bring parts of the 1902 virginia constitution with me. article two, i urge the committee to accept this as record of real jim crow lows, it's about the franchise, poll taxes, property requirements, literacy requirements and runs around literacy requirements where whites get access to the vote where blacks could not. it allows those active in war for united states or confederate states to be registered to vote
regardless of the other test or son of such person. that's called the grandfather clause. let me read to you the spirit of this constitution in article 9, section 140. i'm going to read the whole thing. white and colored children shall not be taught in the same school. period. that's what's going on in the 1902 virginia constitution. that's jim crow laws. i brought with me a six-page test from 1958 in georgia, had you to pass this test to register to vote. i was head of cis. we gave citizenship test that's were a cake walk next to this. i wonder if everybody in this committee could name every judge in the judicial circuit you live in. i can't and i was deputy attorney general attorney general. i'd submit this as well. this is a jim crow impediment to
people voting, literacy bar and these kind of tests, you can find this in california, connecticut, delaware. these are real jim crow laws. sen. cruz: which party wrote the jim crow laws? >> almost universally written by the democratic party certainly in virginia and across the south. sen. cruz: which party enforced the laws? >> democratic party universally. sen. cruz: which party benefits? >> one party maintained for decades about the democratic party. sen. cruz: and jim crow laws were designed to keep which party in office? >> the democratic party. sen. cruz: so today, the democrats are at it again. among other things they're advocating subjecting every state election law to be able to be vetoed by an unelected bureau
crat at the department of justice. if an unelected bureaucrat at the department of justice can veto voter id law elected by the voters, is that respecting democracy? >> no, it's undermining democracy how is undermining the democracy. when the will of the people as expressed through elected representatives make policy choices in their sovereign state and a federal bureaucrat rolls in with the power to undo that entire process, you are vetoing by an unelected person, the results and the will of the elected representatives in that state. that undermines democracy and makes elections less useful to the people. sen. cruz: well, and it's impossible to miss why it is that democrats want to give unelected bureaucrats in the department of justice veto power of every state legislature in america. because those unelected
bureaucrats are not just principled non-paragons of virtue, instead they are hard radical leftist activists. in 2013 the department of justice inspector general issued a scathing report detailing the politicized nation of the civil rights division. the report criticized that division for ignoring the resumes of qualified attorneys, and hiring attorneys from five left-wing organizations, including the aclu, naacp. moreover, a recent hearing in the house, former lawyer in that division, maureen reirden testified she was shocked how political the conduct of the lawyers were, and some of the dishonesty miss reirden testified to, she said after the court sanctioned d.o.j. with $594,000 for colorado misconduct with aclu and other
organizations, continued to work with these organizations. is that consistent with your experience? >> that is. sen. cruz: can you describe the politicalization that you saw when working in the department of justice? >> mind you, i left in 2012 but i was there when it was relevant to the oig report, virtually everything in that report i can corroborate and saw. i know and respect maureen, everything she said, i watched her testimony and believe everything maureen said. staff has a way of sorting out people's political views. i don't know the people that's been hired since i left but i have a hard time imagining anything changes the culture of the locker room, so to speak, it's tough to change that. sen. cruz: today's hard left as
opposed to voter id laws. if democrats succeed in giving unelected bureaucrats at d.o.j. veto power over voter id law would any state in the country be able to pass a voter id law? >> no. sen. cruz: final question. senator klobuchar and one the democratic witnesses said if the corrupt politicians act were passed into law, that no illegal aliens would be registered to vote. is that remotely credible? if not, why? >> no it's not. the terms of the bill, the draft bill clearly, not only would register millions of non-citizens, including illegal aliens because they get into state databases, that's not nefarious. states interact with people that live in their states. sen. cruz: illegal aliens have driver's license. >> they do in many states. sen. cruz: millions have licenses. >> absolutely.
sen. cruz: they would mostly be automatically registered. >> yes, the bill said individuals not citizens. and it criminalizes the chairman , expressed the worry about using criminal statutes to intimidate, it intimidates state and local officials with new federal criminal penalties of -- penalties if they ask questions vaguely worded -- sen. cruz: -- state official who's register from liability from registering illegal aliens? >> not only that, it removes penalties for anyone registered to vote this way from actually voting in elections and there by denying other americans the quality of the vote i heard on a bipartisan basis here today everyone values. sen. cruz: does allowing millions of illegal aliens to vote does it protect the right to vote for american citizens? >> it utterly undermines it.
sen. cruz: why? >> it cancels out millions of american votes, don't know how many it will effect but i do know it will be an enormous number. heck, i'd want a recount race for my state legislature. i remember going back to the first state race and doug wilder won by 6,000 votes. bob mcdonald won close. the current attorney general won by a few hundred. the difference it would make in turning elections is enormous and because it's unknowable in terms of the numbers it would gut confidence in the american people in the outcomes of our elections. sen. cruz: thank you. >> mr. hasin, you've heard mr. mobile say in effect that justice alito adhered to the wording of the statute, is that your view? >> it's absolutely not my view. and far from apologizing to justice alito as senator lee
suggested, i want to double down and say this is an opinion unmoored to the text. for a full explanation you can read justice kagan's dissent that goes on for many pages and explains this. let me give just one example. one of the factors that the senate recognized in its 1982 report accompanying the revision of section two to put in the results test is one factor that would show a violation of section two is that the state offers a tenuous justification for its law. so what this means is, the states often, as justice kagan explains in her dissent, states often will use neutral-sounding rationals for passing laws. like preventing fraud, promoting voter confidence, protecting the
purity of the ballot box. and what congress decided when it passed section two in the revised form in 1982 you got to see if that's a real justification. if a state comes forward to say we're trying to prevent fraud , you put the state to the evidence and say where is the evidence of fraud that would justify this law? some laws are justified in preventing fraud. i don't think all claims of laws as being anti-fraud is wrong, sometimes that's correct, but what the senate report and text of section two required asks is this a real reason of the state has to put forward its evidence, where's your evidence of fraud? what justice alito says in one of five so-called guide posts he tells us are not factors, he's not committing anything for the future. here are some things to look at. he says the strength of the states interest and says , explicitly that the state can assert an interest in preventing
voter fraud -- and then not prove that voter fraud fraud is a problem as a pretext. this is what i mean, anti textualism. it turns section two on the head by letting the state get a free pass at the same time upping the burdens that apply to minority voters. so if a allow is only a quote, usual burden of voting, or inconvenience, even if it has a disparate impact on minority voters under justice alito's interpretation that's not a section two that's the opposite of -- justice alito is not following precedent. he is not following text. he is doing the exact opposite. this is not as one of the witnesses said voting rights act
101, it's a perversion of the voting act. every time i read the burnvich decision i get angry how justice alito warped the interpretation of the act, and turned it from something that protects minority voters to something that protects states on attacks on law that's are discriminatory. >> thank you. let me ask you, in realtime. right now. not at time of jim crow but right now we're seeing a wave of tsunami of voter suppresion laws. let me ask you, the laws passed by arizona, florida and george ia, and texas potentially, that reduce the hours of voting in
person voting, are those voter suppression laws done by republican or democratic controlled legislatures? >> well, i think if you look today, almost all of the cut backs in voting rules are being passed almost on party lines by republican legislatures and republican elected officials. >> so those laws that limit balloting hours and polling places or the circumstances of mail-in voting, or absente e voting, or in the case of harris county in texas, 24-hour balloting, laws that forbid sending unsolicited applications for absentee ballots, not the ballots themselves -- all of those voting suppression laws are passed along party lines with by and large republican-controlled legislatures approving them, correct? >> yes, that's correct. >> and i think we have it from
-- actually, the -- the lawyer representing the arizona republican party in the united states supreme court, when he was asked and i cited it earlier by justice barrett, what is the interest of the arizona republican party in keeping out of precinct ballot rules on the books, end quote. by the way, out of precinct ballot rules forbid votes from being counted when out of precinct. what's the interest in effect of keeping those votes from being counted? he answered, quote because it puts us, the republican party, at a disadvantage relative to the democratic party. politics is a zero-sum game. end quote. i began with the hope we would have some degree of bipartisan agreement because voting by
itself should not be bipartisan. should have bipartisan agreement that voting is a good thing. and everyone one of the witnesses, in fact, agree with senator padilla's high school teacher that maximum participation in voting by eligible citizens is a good thing. instead of voter suppression, we ought to be engaged in voter encouragement. but that's not the result of these voter suppression laws that are enabled and emboldened by burnvich and shelby county , and we need the john lewis advancement act to protect those rights. i understand the ranking member has something to put in the record. sen. cruz: senator lee asked me to introduce this letter from mitchell an attorney analyzing the georgia reform bill, without objection i would like to enter this letter into record.
sen. blumenthal: without objection. sen. cruz: if i might ask a couple questions. sen. blumenthal: sure. sen. cruz: the chairman suggested moments ago that limiting early voting is somehow voter suppression and even racist. mr. cuccinelli, do you know how many days early voting state of texas has? >> yeah, state of texas has 17 early days of voting. sen. cruz: do you know how many days of early voting georgia has? >> georgia has 17 days of early vote. sen. cruz: do you know how many days of early voting arizona has? >> 18 days of early voting. sen. cruz: how about chairman's home state of connecticut? >> zero. sen. cruz: connecticut has zero? i thought early voting was racist voter suppression >> i don't think it is but certainly the allegations has been made. sen. cruz: how about delaware, home state of president biden, surely they have more? >> no early voting in delaware. sen. cruz: zero.
>> not one day. sen. cruz: why are they claiming no early is voter suppression when democratic states like connecticut and delaware have zero, nada, zilch. >> because it's politically convenient to do so. sen. blumenthal: i might point out to the ranking member what his own residents told me earlier today, i wish he had been there. the effects of those laws on their practical access to the ballot place, the intimidation that has taken place in texas as a result of those laws, and in connecticut we are moving towards expanding voting access through both statutes and constitutional amendments. it is exactly the opposite trend. instead of constraining and restricting ballot access as it is being threatened in the state
of texas, the state of connecticut is moving to expand voting rights. sen. cruz: mr. chairman, what do you deal with the fact voter turn out has increased and minority turnout has increased in the states you're demonizing right now? sen. blumenthal: voting turnout increased across the country and as the ranking member well knows, the rights of individuals are not measured in the overall numbers of turnout. they're measured in individual access to the ballots. a measure that restricts in a discriminatory way is wrong, and should be illegal. the purpose of the john lewis voting rights advancement act is to open that access. sen. cruz:, voter suppression with no early voting at all? sen. blumenthal: we're moving in
the direction of opening ballot access, statutes that have been passed during this session of the legislature, and a constitutional amendment to be passed overall. i have to say -- i do not mean to interrupt -- we have a vote that i believe -- we can carry on this dialogue if you want to take a recess, senator cruz, there is a vote on going. >> my comment will be 30 seconds mr. chairman. , in the naacp versus mccrory case five years ago the trial court went painstakingly through the experts from the naacp in common cause. they found their academic writing concluded outside of the parameters of the case that early voting either made no change in turnout or modestly reduced turnout. it was referred to as convenience voting by some of the experts, and it is more convenient but does not increase
turnout according to the academic writings of the experts on the left. sen. blumenthal: this hearing is adjourned. there will be a week and the record will be kept open for that week for anyone to ask questions. i thank the witnesses and my colleagues for participating. thanks very much. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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operations and you have time to order the congressional directory we contact information for members of congress and the biden administration. go to c-span shop.org. >> democratic u.s. senators and texas legislators talk with reporters about voting rights. several texas lawmakers are in washington, d.c. after leaving their state to protest texas governor greg abbott's special legislative session to root dish to approve several republican voting bills. >> i am here with these people of courage, >> we stand with these freedom