House Dems pass voting rights bill, now comes World War 3 in the Senate

“House Democrats passed sweeping voting and ethics legislation over unanimous Republican opposition” Wednesday night, sending to the Senate “what would be the largest overhaul of the U.S. election law in at least a generation,” AOL News said. (Read story here.)

The bill takes dead aim at Republican voter suppression and gerrymandering, and blew past unanimous GOP opposition in the House, a day before QAnon supporters believe Trump will become president again, while outside the Capitol building Capitol Police and thousands of National Guard troops are bracing for what authorities warned is a credible threat of another violent militia attack on lawmakers.

It has zero chance of getting 60 votes in the Senate, so the only way it get through that chamber is by either somehow bypassing the filibuster rule, or scrapping the filibuster. Democrats might not have the votes to do that, because at least two of their own senators are known to oppose such a move.

Protecting voting rights is a top priority for Democrats, and gaming elections — gaming them hard — is a top priority for Republicans. In the Supreme Court, which is hearing a case involving GOP-imposed restrictions on voting in Arizona, a Republican lawyer justified those restrictions by saying, “Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats. Politics is a zero-sum game.”

In House debate, a newly-elected congresswoman from Georgia said the bill “will put a stop at the voter suppression that we’re seeing debated right now” in GOP-run legislatures across the country, where Republicans are passing hundreds of bills to deny millions of Americans access to the ballot, and justifying those restrictions by flaunting their party’s incessant lies and baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.

If there was ever a battleground where partisans would fight tooth and claw, this is it.

Republicans see the bill as “ultimately benefiting Democrats through higher turnout, most notably among minorities.” Which is exactly what they want to prevent. Most GOP voter suppression efforts seek to prevent blacks from voting, and all of the cities where Republicans falsely claimed “massive voting fraud” occurred in 2020 — Detroit, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Atlanta among them — have large black populations. Can you add 2 + 2?

Ken Cuccinelli, who illegally served in top Homeland Security positions under Trump (read the details here), said: “H.R. 1 is not about making elections better. It’s about the opposite. It’s intended to dirty up elections.” Coming from him, or any Republican, that’s laughable.

The White House said, “In the wake of an unprecedented assault on our democracy, a never before seen effort to ignore, undermine, and undo the will of the people, and a newly aggressive attack on voting rights taking place right now all across the country, this landmark legislation is urgently needed to protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen American democracy.” (Reported by The Hill here).

Here’s a rough outline of what’s in the bill:

“H.R. 1 would require states to automatically register eligible voters, as well as offer same-day registration. It would limit states’ ability to purge registered voters from their rolls and restore former felons’ voting rights. Among dozens of other provisions, it would also require states to offer 15 days of early voting and allow no-excuse absentee balloting.”

To prevent gerrymandering, “the bill would mandate that nonpartisan commissions handle the [redistricting] process instead of state legislatures.”

It would create “a public financing system for congressional campaigns that would be funded through fines and settlement proceeds raised from corporate bad actors” and give more teeth to the Federal Election Commission, which “has been gripped by partisan deadlock for years, allowing campaign finance law violators to go mostly unchecked.”

It “would force the disclosure of donors to ‘dark money’ political groups, which are a magnet for wealthy interests looking to influence the political process while remaining anonymous.”

Many Democrats, especially progressives, will view this as must-pass legislation even if the filibuster must go to pass it. The problem is Republicans routinely violate campaign laws now, and if this bill becomes law they’ll violate it, too. The real test will be not whether Democrats can pass the bill, but whether they can enforce it.

But the challenge of passing this bill will test how serious Democrats are about enacting their agenda. This is where the rubber meets the road. If they’re not serious about this, no one will take them seriously about anything else.

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0 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Mark Adams #

    This bill is partisan, and offers Republicans little or nothing. [This comment has been edited.]

  2. Roger Rabbit #

    What should it offer to a party that tries to keep American citizens from exercising their right to vote?

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