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U.S. Senate sets Wednesday procedural vote on election reform bill

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate Democrats hold weekly policy lunch at U.S. Capitol in Washington WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Senate on Wednesday will take a procedural vote on legislation restoring requirements – struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 – that certain states and counties get federal approval before they can redraw voting districts, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday.

Republicans are expected to block the move, arguing that the federal government should not meddle in state-run election activities.

"Time is really getting short for the Senate to take action on voting rights," Schumer said in a floor speech.

"It is essential that we restore pre-clearance protections before the start of next year, when states are set to consider another round of restrictive voting rights laws," the top Senate Democrat said.

Next year also brings November elections for one-third of the Senate’s 100 seats and all 435 House of Representatives seats. Both chambers are narrowly controlled by Democrats.

Republicans have already blocked multiple attempts by Schumer to advance broader election reform bills that would make it easier for Americans to vote by mail and cast early in-person ballots.

That effort was an attempt to override restrictive laws passed this year in a number of states with Republican-controlled legislatures and governors. Those measures, plus others in the pipeline, are part of a Republican narrative that the 2020 presidential election was rife with voter fraud, as former President Donald Trump has falsely claimed since last year.

Various court decisions and Trump’s own Justice Department found no substantial voting irregularities to put President Joe Biden’s victory in question.

Many Democrats are pressing Schumer to alter or scrap the Senate’s filibuster rule to allow voting rights legislation to advance on a simple majority vote that Democrats could more easily win, instead of the current 60-vote threshold for most legislation, which requires Republican cooperation.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Richard Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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