PHILADELPHIA (CNN) — Rep. John Lewis, a pioneer in the civil rights movement, wants the Obama administration to appoint observers for the November election in certain states.
“We should ask for federal protection,” the Georgia Democrat said Wednesday, warning “the election can be stolen on election day at polling places.”
Lewis, who was badly injured in 1965 while marching in Selma, Alabama for voting rights for African-Americans, said several states including Georgia, Florida, Ohio and North Carolina should be monitored, and potentially all of the states that belonged to the confederacy.
Lewis made his comments at a roundtable on voting rights with other Democrats and advocacy groups held in the room in the Capitol named after President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who signed the landmark voting right law.
In August, the Supreme Court denied a request from North Carolina to allow provisions of its controversial voting rights law to go back into effect.
The Supreme Court order meant provisions of the law — concerning a tightening in voter ID requirements, cutbacks on early voting and the preregistration of 16-year-olds — will remain off the books for November’s election.
The court’s order was a major victory for challengers to the law, including civil rights groups and the Department of Justice, which argued that it had a disparate impact on minority voters.
Lewis said the 2016 presidential election is the first since 1965 that voters don’t have the full protections of the Voting Rights Act due to a Supreme Court ruling three years ago. The lawmaker said it was a “shame and a disgrace” that Congress hasn’t acted on the issue.
In 2013, the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 decision that key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are no longer valid. The opinion left it to Congress to revise the law, so that it’s constitutional in the minds of a majority of justices.
Chief Justice John Roberts explained the ruling saying “our country has changed” for the better. And that the conditions that moved Congress five decades ago to require certain parts of the United States to “preclear” changes to voting laws “no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions.”
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