Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Thursday said that he does not believe that the federal government needs the Voting Rights Act to oversee voting laws in states with a history of racial discrimination.
During a forum held by the Des Moines Register, Bush was asked if he would reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, which was passed in 1965.
Bush spent most of his response discussing provisions in the law that require certain states to submit any changes to their voting laws to the federal government.
“If it’s to re-authorize it to continue to provide regulations on top of states as though we are living in 1960 — because those were basically when many of those rules were put in place — I don’t believe that we should do that,” Bush responded. “There’s been dramatic improvement in access to voting — exponentially better improvement. And I don’t think there’s a role for the federal government to play in most places — there could be some — but in most places where they did have a constructive role in the 60s. So I don’t support reauthorizing it as is.”
Bush is likely referring to sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 established that certain states must obtain pre-clearance for new voting laws, and Section 4 established the formula used to determine which states and localities must submit change for pre-clearance. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4, without which Section 5 is useless.
Bush’s comments come as Alabama officials have closed drivers’ license offices in counties with a majority black population even though the state requires residents to present a photo ID in order to vote. Critics argue that the closures in combination with the state’s voter ID laws will make it harder for African Americans to vote.
Watch video of Bush’s remarks on the Voting Rights Act: