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Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), James Clyburn (D-S.C.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), former Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in 2016. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Democratic lawmakers and civil rights advocates have escalated calls for voting rights protections since the death of Rep. John Lewis, who made the issue his life's work.

Driving the news: House Democrats renamed a measure aimed at restoring a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act after Lewis. The bill, which passed in the House in December, has little chance of clearing the GOP-led Senate.

  • "You want to honor John? Let's honor him by revitalizing the law that he was willing to die for," said former President Obama at Lewis' funeral on Thursday.
  • "By the way, naming it the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — that is a fine tribute, but John wouldn't want us to stop there."

Why it matters: The renewed push comes seven years after the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that allowed the government to regulate new election laws — like eliminating polling locations — in several mostly Southern states with a history of discrimination.

  • The court suggested at the time that Congress could reinstate the law by passing a new formula to determine which states would be subject to federal oversight.

Of note: At least 1,688 polling places closed across 13 states, nearly all in the South and West, between 2012 and 2018, according to a report by the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights.

  • In addition, states "have shortened voting hours, enacted new barriers to registration, purged millions from voter rolls, implemented strict voter identification laws, reshaped voting districts, and closed polling places," the report says.
  • "For many people, and particularly for voters of color, older voters, rural voters, and voters with disabilities, these burdens make it harder — and sometimes impossible — to vote," the report says.

The issue wasn't always partisan. Congress has renewed the section that determines which states are subject to federal review four times, going back to 1970.

Republican leaders today have widely praised Lewis following his death, but none has expressed support for restoring the provision.

  • “There’s very little tangible evidence of this whole voter-suppression nonsense that the Democrats are promoting,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told the Wall Street Journal in June.
  • “My prediction is African-American voters will turn out in as large a percentage as whites, if not more so, all across the country.”

Go deeper

Florida swing voters desperate for an end to the race

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

After months of a grueling campaign season, some swing voters around Florida are desperately searching for an end to this cycle — even if it means accepting a President Biden win after they voted for President Trump.

Why it matters: Fatigue over the level of political outreach and content they've been inundated with during this race — as well as fear that there will be extreme civil unrest no matter who wins — is pushing these voters to accept a president they don't even want if it means the chaos will end.

NRA files for bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for voluntary bankruptcy as part of a restructuring plan.

Driving the news: The gun rights group said it would reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment." Last year, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

51 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.