Since Democrats took control of the White House and Senate in 2021, there has been an unprecedented push for voting rights legislation, and pressure groups are embracing it. In the first half of 2021, pressure groups spent more than $ 151.2 million while lobbying on voting rights and other issues, according to an OpenSecrets analysis of lobbying disclosure records.
Lobbyists spent the most on HR 1 or the “For the People Act,” which Senate Republicans filibustered in a June party line vote, preventing Democrats from securing the 60 votes needed to bring the bill to the Senate. According to an analysis by OpenSecrets, 122 groups have spent more than $ 119.5 million lobbying on the bill and other issues.
During the six-month lifespan of HR 1, the United States Chamber of Commerce spent $ 29.6 million on lobbying expenses. His efforts were followed by lobbying spending of nearly $ 9.6 million from Facebook and $ 8.8 million from Business Roundtable, according to OpenSecrets analysis.
The free vote law is the latest in a wave of voting rights legislation backed by large-scale lobbying efforts, and could be presented to the Senate for consideration this week. The new legislation, unveiled in September by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) And several co-sponsors, is inspired by the For the People Act and builds on a framework proposed by Senator Joe Manchin (DW.V .) in June. . If enacted, the bill would make the recording of votes automatic, force states to allow same-day recording of votes, expand access to advance and postal voting, and create new rules for gerrymandering .
Another major voting rights bill, HR 4 or the “John R. Lewis Advancement of Voting Rights Act,” passed the House in August and received similar levels of support from the House. part of pressure groups. So far, 21 groups have lobbied the bill and poured nearly $ 10.8 million into HR 4, among others.
The AFL-CIO spent $ 2.4 million lobbying HR 4 and other causes in the first six months of 2021. The union topped the bill’s lobby spending list. It’s followed by left-wing nonprofits Sixteen Thirty Fund and Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, which each spent $ 1.3 million.
This influx of voting rights legislation follows efforts by former President Donald Trump and some Republicans to cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election. The former president alleged the election was stolen from cause of irregularities in the ballot boxes. However, there is no evidence to support these charges.
After the election, several states with Republican governors introduced legislation to restrict access to postal voting and same-day registration to vote.
More than 425 bills with provisions restricting access to the vote and nearly 1,000 bills with extended provisions were introduced in 49 states this year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Some bills include both provisions that expand access to the vote and provisions that make it more difficult to vote.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an election bill in May that sets additional voter identification requirements, bans mass mailing of ballots, and bans ballot harvesting. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp also signed a sweeping new election law this year that limits the number of county drop boxes, shortens the window for requesting a mail-in ballot, and requires voters to reapply for a ballot. postal voting in each general election cycle.
In Texas, a new law restricts mail-in voting and bans drive-thru and 24-hour voting. It also extends protections for poll observers and implements new monthly voter registration reviews to identify non-voters. citizens.
Conservative groups are also spending large sums of money against voting rights legislation. Heritage Action, a conservative policy advocacy group and sister organization of the Heritage Foundation, in March launched a $ 10 million “electoral integrity” campaign focused on opposition to HR1 and action in the legislatures of the United Nations. States.
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