Democrats drop suffrage as campaign issue after emotional surge


Once touted as an issue of pressing and historic importance, the topic of suffrage has seemingly slipped from the forefront of Democratic messaging as the midterm election cycle gathers pace.

Vice President Kamala Harris has hosted just a handful of events on the issue, which she was put in charge of last year, in recent months as she pivots to fights such as the one over the right to abortion, according to an analysis of its audience. schedules by Los Angeles Times.


And President Joe Biden rarely brings up the subject. His few recent mentions of suffrage came only at Democratic fundraisers, not speeches, according to Factbase, which tracks presidential remarks.

“There’s a reason they don’t talk about it,” Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist, told the Washington Examiner. “It is quite clear that the right to vote will not pass through the Senate. So I think it disappointed people’s expectations.

The Senate failed in January to advance voting rights legislation that would override state laws governing elections. Even some centrist Democrats have expressed skepticism about the scope of the bill, and a related effort to end the filibuster to pass the legislation also failed.

Democrats pointed to electoral reforms in Georgia and Texas, in particular, as justification for a push for voting rights that Democrats at one point last year considered their top priority.

When congressional Democrats scrapped months-long negotiations over their massive social and climate spending bill in December, they claimed they did so in order to resume the most important fight for voting rights, which had already failed at the time at the Capitol.

However, voter turnout in the Georgia and Texas primaries this spring has challenged the narrative of repression that Democrats have tried to craft over the past year.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was quick to point out the gap Tuesday between what Democrats had announced and what has actually unfolded so far.

“That was never true. It was just to advance their pre-existing political agenda,” McConnell said. “The fake hysteria was just a pretext to push a sweeping national takeover of election laws that Democrats had already had on the shelf for several years.”

Democrats pushed back on Tuesday, arguing Georgia’s record turnout didn’t invalidate their concerns about election laws.

‘He’s trying to restrict Democratic ridings,’ reportedly said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) mentioned in response to McConnell. “Just because there could be vigorous activity in a GOP primary doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to tilt the playing field.”

Kaine’s claim, however, is contradicted by Georgia’s numbers. Although more Republicans voted in the early primary vote this year than Democrats, the number of early Democratic voters alone exceeded the total number of early primary voters in 2018 and 2020, according to the Office of the Secretary of State. State of Georgia.

In Texas, which has also passed electoral reforms that Democrats have called an existential threat to democracy, voter turnout in the March primaries surpassed that of the previous six midterm primaries, according to the Texas Grandstand.

The findings stand in stark contrast to the warnings that Biden, Harris and others sounded just months ago.

In a moving speech on suffrage in January, Biden called the Republican voting reform movement a product of the same forces that drove the Jan. 6 riots on Capitol Hill. He invoked images of civil rights-era struggles, such as the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, to highlight the importance of the struggle for the right to vote.

And he made dire claims about the specific effects of the Peach State voting law.

For example, Biden predicted Georgia voters would face significant barriers to voting on Election Day after the state’s new law was passed.

“Remove [voting] options has a predictable effect: longer lines at the polls, lines that can last for hours,” Biden said in January during his major voting rights speech in Atlanta.

On Tuesday, however, voters discovered “short lines and limited problems” at polling places in Georgia, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Biden predicted Republican law in Georgia would limit early voting, incorrectly saying last year that the new rules reduced the number of hours polling places would remain open for in-person early voting.


“Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so workers can’t vote after their shift ends,” Biden said in a March 2021 statement.

However, early in-person voting has skyrocketed in Georgia.

More than double the number of voters cast ballots in early primary voting this year compared to the previous two elections.


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