Republicans push voter suppression in state governments as Democrats fight back at the federal level: report
With Democrats now in control of the White House and both branches of Congress, Republicans in state governments — from Florida and Georgia to Iowa — are hoping to discourage Democratic voter turnout in 2022 by pushing racist voter suppression bills that civil rights groups are slamming as a form of modern-day Jim Crow. Democrats, however, have been fighting back at the federal level with proposals for nationwide voter protection laws. And that federal struggle against voter suppression laws is the focus of an article by Washington Post reporters Mike DeBonis and Amy Gardner that was published on March 2.
Republicans in state legislatures, of course, aren't admitting that their bills are a form of voter suppression but rather, say that they are merely promoting election security. But the types of things they are proposing are clearly designed to make it more difficult, not easier, to vote — and that includes limiting early voting, reducing voting hours on Election Day, eliminating drop boxes for ballots, and discouraging absentee voting or voting by mail.
"The turbulent debate over the nation's elections reached Congress' doorstep this week, with House Democrats poised to pass sweeping nationwide standards for voter access Wednesday just as Republican lawmakers in dozens of states move to restrict polling access after Donald Trump's November loss," DeBonis and Gardner explain. "Both parties have mobilized for the fight in unprecedented ways, reflecting the immense public attention on election issues — thanks to Trump's months-long campaign of falsehoods and the subsequent attack on the Capitol, as well as the stakes for the 2022 midterm elections."
But the Post reporters point out that that "it appears unlikely that the matter will be quickly settled at the federal level, with the narrow Democratic Senate majority and firm GOP opposition spelling apparent doom for any type of new voting rights legislation in the near term."
At the federal level, one of the tools that Democrats have for fighting voter suppression is HR 1, a.k.a. the For the People Act. If the bill passes the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, it would still need to pass in the U.S. Senate — which also has a Democratic majority, but a narrow one. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed his vehement opposition to the bill.
"State lawmakers are barreling ahead with major rollbacks of early voting, mail voting and other state provisions that Trump and other Republicans oppose, while the Supreme Court on Tuesday heard a challenge to Arizona's election laws that could further curtail the federal government's power to police elections," DeBonis and Gardner observe. "The opposing efforts have created a remarkable split screen between the hurried GOP drive underway in state capitals and the significant Democratic push in Washington — with both parties seeing election laws as a crucial factor in determining outcomes and as a motivating issue for their base supporters."
Rep. John Sarbanes, the Maryland Democrat who authored the For the People Act, is determined to keep pushing the bill in the House. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is very much in favor of it.
Sarbanes told the Post, "It's important to keep this moving. Republicans are absolutely determined to throw as many obstacles up as they possibly can, and Exhibit A is Georgia, Exhibit B is Pennsylvania, Exhibit C is Arizona. And the list goes on and on from there. So, the stakes could not be higher."
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