The real reason Republicans block voting rights legislation

Instead, party leaders in Washington and the states have devoted themselves to branding his undemocratic behavior as GOP orthodoxy and money-laundering events that led to Trump’s disgrace, including his pandemic failures, lies about non-existent major voter fraud and the Capitol uprising.
Instead of examining why voters rejected the ex-president after a single term, Republican state lawmakers have drafted bills rooted in his lies about a stolen election that could make it easier to install their winner. preferred after future elections – even if voters decide otherwise.

It is against this backdrop that GOP senators this week are expected to block Democratic measures designed effectively to protect a democracy under an almost unprecedented assault.

The showdown will come at a critical time for Joe Biden’s presidency. Delicate negotiations that could result in a bipartisan infrastructure bill may have a narrow path. And a months-long campaign for a bipartisan deal on police reform is finally creating some optimism for real progress. (Biden also faces growing unrest among Liberal Democrats who fear dreams of a radical and transformative presidency will evaporate.)

While these legislative issues are vital to Biden’s political agenda, the voting rights dispute touches upon something more fundamental to America – the maintenance of its political system.

It is perfectly valid for Republicans to raise objections to the “For the People’s Law”, which has already been passed in the House and which Democrats are now trying to pass in the Senate. The recast bill restores voting rights and broadens access to the ballot by introducing automatic voter registration, protecting postal voting and establishing national standards for early voting. The idea that this is too broad a use of federal power to dictate the rules of state elections deserves serious debate. New campaign finance reform proposals included in the bill could face legal hurdles. And it is not clear that a single mandate works everywhere. Some states already believe their systems are superior to anything Washington could impose. Critics also question whether Washington will properly fund a major overhaul of the electoral system.
Yet the sincerity of the Republican opposition is called into question by the actions of lawmakers in GOP states who actively undermine American democracy. Most Republican lawmakers in Washington voted to protect Trump from impeachment charges after inciting a mob riot on Capitol Hill on Jan.6. And more recently, GOP senators blocked an independent, bipartisan inquiry into the events of that day.

Allegations of widespread electoral fraud in 2020 – which Republicans say justify restrictive voting bills from Florida to Texas and Arizona to Michigan – are false. And past statements by GOP leaders, including Trump, that allowing more people to vote will make it harder for Republicans to gain power reveals a more genuine justification for GOP opposition.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, for example, said on Fox News in November, as Trump contested the outcome of a free and fair election that made Joe Biden president, that “if Republicans don’t challenge and change the U.S. electoral system, there will never be another Republican president elected”.

Schumer aims for Tuesday’s vote

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday he would hold a vote on Tuesday on opening the voting rights debate. Republican senators are expected to use the filibuster rule requiring a 60-vote majority on major bills to stifle discussions on voting reform.

Ahead of the showdown, Republican senators rallied Sunday to also stifle a compromise measure from moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who surprised many on his side of the aisle last week.

The original For the People Act and Manchin’s Alternative are viewed by many Democratic activists as the best chance at countering dozens of restrictive ballot bills, including in swing states.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, appeared open to the approach of Manchin, who makes Election Day a national holiday, imposes 15 days of early voting, introduces a requirement to identify the voters – a step Republicans have traditionally supported – is expanding some mail-order votes and banning the drawing of Congressional constituencies along partisan lines.

While telling CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” that he prefers the bill passed by the House, Sanders did not rule out Manchin’s narrower approach.

“Looks like I’m ready to do whatever I can to protect American democracy,” the former presidential candidate said.

“We can disagree on all kinds of issues, but denying people the right to participate in American democracy is unacceptable. And Congress must fix it in any way,” Sanders added.

Schumer told reporters he was still in talks with Manchin over his compromise measure – which Georgia’s voting rights champion Stacey Abrams also said would be open last week. Engaging Manchin in a voting rights bill could unite all 50 Democratic senators in a powerful symbolic gesture.

“There will be a vote on Tuesday, on voting rights, it’s a very simple vote… it just means to have its debate. It’s hard to believe that Republicans will not even vote to debate it,” said Schumer.

Republicans dig

But Republican senators opposed any federal overhaul, including Manchin’s proposals.

“Unfortunately, what it does is what the biggest S1 bill does, which is to take the electoral system of this country and federalize it,” Senator de Ohio Rob Portman on NBC’s “Meet the Press”.

“This is a federal takeover of our electoral system.”

Graham also supported the line established by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that no action was allowed in Washington to regulate the elections.

“As much as I love Joe Manchin, the answer would be no,” the South Carolina Republican said on “Fox News Sunday” before attacking the original bill.

“In my opinion, SR-1 is the biggest takeover in the history of the country,” Graham said. “They are trying to solve an issue that most Republicans have a different view on.”

The line that Washington plays no role in running the election allows Republicans to avoid both discussing the tough positions of their fellow states, the Trump lies they are relying on, and whether the Washington government really has the power to act.

The Constitution gives the initial role to states in determining the time, place and conduct of elections to Congress. But it does not indicate that Congress has no role in regulating elections and allows federal lawmakers to pass legislation that supersedes certain state rules. There is evidence that the founders feared that giving states exclusive power to regulate elections could make them too powerful and introduce unfair electoral criteria that would threaten the unity of the Union.. In Federalist 59, for example, Alexander Hamilton explained the constitutional principle that Congress has the power “to regulate, as a last resort, the election of its own members”.

One of the main arguments going forward will be whether election laws in states that threaten the most faithful application of democracy are exactly the kind of abuse Hamilton seemed to have in mind.

According to non-partisans Brennan Center for Justice, at least 14 states had enacted 22 new laws restricting access to the ballot between the 2020 elections and mid-May. At least 61 bills containing restrictive measures were passed through 18 state legislatures at the same time. In many cases, Republican lawmakers are also giving themselves the power to quash non-partisan election officials after the vote, in measures that appear to codify Trump’s pressure on election officials in states like Georgia to alter the outcome of elections. last elections.

Republican officials have repeatedly suggested that efforts to expand the vote would hurt their chances of winning an election.

And Trump himself has said that if more people vote, Republicans will suffer – a warning issued long before the election when he has repeatedly opposed Democrats’ efforts to fund mail-in votes in draft elections. coronavirus relief law.

“If you look before and after, the things they had in there were crazy,” the then president said on “Fox and Friends” on March 30 of last year.

“They had things – voting levels that if you ever got along, you’d never have an elected Republican in this country again.”

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Eric Harris

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