Frustration among Democrats and activists is mounting over the stagnation of legislation on Capitol Hill meant to expand voting rights, an issue the party said was a priority but was unable to win in the past. Congress.
Discontent grows as Democrats repeatedly attempt and fail to muscle two bills – the John lewisJohn Lewis The 5 Most Important Blows To Our Legal System In 2021 Asian American Leaders Push For National Museum Of Their Own History Shows Only New Voting Rights Law Can Preserve Our Fragile Democracy MORE The Advancement of Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act – through a 50-50 Senate after both laws were passed by the tightly divided House.
Republicans in Washington remain almost unanimously opposed to extending voting rights, leaving Democrats forced to face dwindling options and activists calling for bold Senate rule reforms.
“If the Senate can pass the two bills before it, we may be at a turning point in a new direction on this issue. Until that happens, and if it doesn’t, then I think we have a lot of cause for concern right now, ”said Sean Morales-Doyle, Acting Director of Voting Rights Program and elections to the Brennan Center. “Many states have taken steps to restrict access to voting over the past year.”
Democrats have insisted the right to vote is a priority, making expanded ballot access a necessity as Republicans, led by the former President TrumpDonald TrumpOne in three Americans say violence against government is sometimes justified: Poll Seven most vulnerable governors facing re-election in 2022 on Sunday show snapshot: Omicron surge continues; anniversary of the January 6 attack is approaching MORE, expose unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential race and seek to implement restrictions in major swing states that President BidenJoe Biden Kentucky Governor declares state of emergency after powerful storm Seven most vulnerable governors to be re-elected in 2022 At least 20 states to raise minimum wage from Saturday MORE overturned last year.
Most recently, on November 3, Senate Republicans blocked the chamber from debating voting rights legislation named after the late Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.), A civil rights icon.
The bill would strengthen sections of the Voting Rights Act 1965 that required preclearance from the Justice Department before some states could change election laws and removed the requirement for localities with growing minority populations. obtain preclearance for changes in the food or drink offer to people queuing to vote. .
The Democrats were able to convince Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann Murkowski Alaska GOP Governor Accepts Trump Approval, Murkowski Trump Ultimatum Warns Alaska GOP Governor He Will Revoke Approval If He Backs Supporting Conservative Women’s Group Murkowski the challenger Murkowski PLUS (R-Alaska), but no other Republican voted to start the debate, and Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to break a blockage and move the bill forward, triggering another round of lamentations from the lawmakers on the lack of progress on the issue.
“At virtually every turn we have encountered resistance. What happened to the Lincoln Party? What happened to this noble and noble vision that the right to vote is important on both sides of the aisle? »Majority leader in the Senate Chuck schumerChuck Schumer Warren Buffett rejects Sanders call for intervention amid Biden union strike, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid Harry Reid, political pugilist and longtime Senate Majority Leader, dies MORE (DN.Y.) said the day after the vote. “The Senate is capable of much more than what we have seen from our fellow Republicans on the franchise. “
Besides the bill named after Lewis, Democrats have also been blocked in their attempts to continue debate on the free vote law. Among other things, this law would give all voters access to a minimum of 15 days of early voting and registration on the same day, make polling day a federal holiday and extend the possibility of voting by mail.
Amid the stalemate in Washington, Democrats have seen states pass laws they compare to voter suppression.
In Texas, the govt. Greg AbbottGreg Abbott Eleven Interesting Races to Watch in 2022 Federal Judge Blocks Mask and Vaccine Warrants for Texas Head Start Program 2021 Best Political Celebrity Moments MORE (R) signed law that bans 24-hour polling stations, implements new restrictions on drive-thru and postal voting, allows pro-poll observers who can observe an election, increases requirements identification that voters must show when they vote and prevents election officials from distributing postal voting forms to voters who have not expressly requested them.
Governor of Georgia Brian kempBrian Kemp Seven most vulnerable governors facing re-election in 2022 Eleven interesting races to watch in 2022 10 Democrats who could run in 2024 if Biden doesn’t make MORE (R) also signed a law requiring photo ID to vote by mail, limiting the time people have to request a mail ballot and restricting the location of ballot boxes.
And the Governor of Florida. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantis Eleven Interesting Races To Watch In 2022 Ocasio-Cortez Criticizes GOP For ‘Projecting Their Sexual Frustration’ On Her True ‘Patriotic Education’ Requires Critical Analysis of US History MORE (R) also issued new restrictions, including limiting voters’ access to mail-in ballot boxes used by most counties in Florida and requiring voters who wish to vote by mail to submit new ones. requests every electoral cycle instead of every four years.
A total of 19 states have ratified 33 laws that make it harder for Americans to vote, according to the Brennan Center.
Lawmakers say the restrictions raise the stakes for Democrats to pass a federal bill.
“Especially from a national perspective, I think that’s where we should have the most hope. I think having the biggest impact is first to have a national standard for voting rights in this country. These proposals are kind of on third base, if you will, ”said State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (D-Texas), who fled to Washington earlier this year to deny the legislature to the state had a quorum to pass Texas electoral restrictions, a gamble that only worked temporarily.
However, activists say obstacles to passing laws in Congress are blocking any path to passing laws at the federal level – in the absence of a change in Senate rules.
Progressive lawmakers and outside supporters of implementing sweeping electoral reforms have made public obstruction Public Enemy No.1, arguing that the 60-vote hurdle to pass most laws in the Senate must either be removed or at least be amended to include an exception for some issues like voting rights.
“I think they should get rid of the filibuster,” said Nsé Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project. “Stop gambling, get rid of the filibuster, do whatever it takes to make yourself feel like you’re playing well with others, but we have to stop lying and stop pretending that we don’t see this.” happening right now with American Democracy.
But changing the rules is no small task.
In a 50-50 Senate, Democrats would need all 50 of their members to agree to a change, and the Senses. Joe manchinJoe Manchin Biden Faces A Series Of Minefields In The Year To Come Five Questions The Economy Is Facing In 2022 The 10 Biggest News Of The Year MORE (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaThe 10 biggest news of the year The 9 politicians who had the most impact in 2021 Mitch McConnell is set to win “Politician of the Year” in 2021 MORE (D-Ariz.) Have stated that they do not support any adjustments.
Manchin, one of the strongest opponents of the filibuster amendment, has said he wants to advance voting rights legislation in a bipartisan fashion. But campaigners are growing tired of the effort given West Virginia’s inability to bring the required number of Republicans to its side.
“It seems there is a desire to allow these attacks on our democracy to continue so that people can continue to worship at the temple of bipartisanship,” Ufot said. “And unfortunately, I don’t think that’s a goal, a goal worthy of our time, attention, frustration or resources right now. Bipartism should not come at the expense of the possibility of participating in our democracy. “
“I’m going to let him do his thing,” she added of Manchin. “But at some point we have to stop pretending and just admit that someone has farted in the room, and it stinks.”
Biden, for his part, has declared himself open to changing the filibuster, which rocked progressives after he said in October that he believed “we’ll have to get to the point where we fundamentally change the filibuster. “.
However, he did not pressure senators to support specific changes, which, combined with his focus on passing sprawling infrastructure and social spending bills, led activists to accuse Biden not to actively prioritize voting rights in accordance with the way he talks about the matter in public.
“It’s definitely not a priority,” Cliff Albright, co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter, told The Hill. “Anytime you say, ‘we’re going to get there after A, B, and C,’ then by definition it’s not a priority.”
When asked to comment on the criticisms, the White House did not respond directly but told The Hill about the comments of the Deputy Chief Press Secretary. Karine Jean-PierreKarine Jean-Pierre Biden says he plans to run for office in 2024 “if I am in good health” during a briefing earlier this month in which she asserted that Biden “is committed to ensuring that the fundamental right to vote … always exists.”