Republicans love to talk about freedom, liberty, constitutional rights and all that, but a simple look at their actions shows that all that talk is just talk. GOP-led states have filed over 100 pieces of legislation to restrict voting access, leading voting activists to implore Congress to enact voting reforms at the federal level.
According to CNN, new analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice finds that for the 2021 legislative session there have been over 100 bills filed in 28 different states, all aimed at making voting more restrictive. This is a substantial increase from the 35 voting law bills in 15 states from the 2020 session. Most, if not all, of these bills have been filed by GOP legislators.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel has already said the party will be playing a “heavy role” in pushing for election changes after the record turnout of the 2020 election where two-thirds of eligible voters participated in the election. Only the GOP can look at an overwhelming number of people exercising their right to vote and go “Well, that’s a problem.”
GOP legislators have cited the mistrust in the electoral process as a reason for tightening election laws. It should be noted that this mistrust mainly stems from lies told by the former president, his cronies, and multiple GOP politicians who should’ve known better.
If the GOP were really about restoring trust in our electoral process they would simply come out and say “the election wasn’t stolen, Trump lied, there was no widespread fraud, and Joe Biden won fair and square.” I wonder why they just don’t do that? Ah, yes, because there’s power to be grabbed.
“There are some politicians that are very concerned about the historic turnout that we saw in the 2020 election and are determined to put barriers in front of the ballot box to try and give themselves a job security play,” Myrna Pérez, director of voting rights and elections at Brennan, told CNN. “There are some politicians who are trying to manipulate the rules of the game so some people can participate and some people can’t.”
In my home state of Arizona—which flipped blue for the first time in several decades during the 2020 election—there are efforts to remove the permanent early voting list. This function, which your boy has used in all elections for the last six years, allows people to automatically receive a no-excuse mail-in ballot for every election.
Arizona’s efforts at voter restrictions baffle me, because Republicans actually did pretty OK in down ballot races. So apparently, Joe Biden’s win in the state was a fraud, but Rep. Paul Gosar’s (R-Ariz.) was totally legit. (Also, fuck Paul Gosar).
Legislators in Mississippi and Arizona are also introducing bills that would allow the states to purge voters from the rolls if they didn’t vote in a four-year election cycle. Other efforts in other states include more restrictive voter ID laws, and rolling back “no-excuse” mail-in voting. Missouri is taking it a step further with legislation that removes COVID-19 concerns as a reason for receiving a mail-in ballot.
There is hope that a series of election reform bills in the Democratic-controlled Congress will help combat these efforts at voter suppression. The bills would mandate 15 days of early voting for federal elections, allow automatic voter registration, prevent states from banning mail-in and curbside voting, and restore voting rights for those convicted of felonies.
There is concern that Republicans are going to use the filibuster to block these efforts. While the Democrats do have the ruling majority of the 50-50 split Senate, Republicans can use the filibuster to force them to come up with 60 votes to end debate.
Modern-day filibusters don’t much resemble Jimmy Stewart’s fictional talkfest depicted in the 1939 film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Instead, under current rules, senators don’t need to hold up floor action by talking. They just signal their objection, forcing the majority to come up with 60 votes.
Each party has chipped away at the filibuster in recent years to bypass opposition from the other side of the aisle: In 2013, Senate Democrats eliminated the filibuster on judicial and executive nominations. And in 2017, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans ended the filibuster on confirmation for Supreme Court nominees to push through Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the high court.
McConnell and other Republicans in the Senate minority oppose gutting the filibuster. And the Democratic voting rights measures are part of a sweeping bill that seeks broad change, including provisions that require greater disclosure of political spending that McConnell long has opposed.
Voting rights activists are in favor of ending the legislative filibuster if it means progress can be made on securing everyone’s right to vote. Nsé Ufot, who runs the New Georgia Project voting rights group, called the filibuster “anti-democratic” in an interview with CNN.
Fred Wertheimer, a voting laws activist who runs Democracy 21, told CNN that it’s decision time for congressional Democrats. “The choice is going to come down to whether we are going to fix our democracy or live with an antiquated filibuster rule,” he said.
Without abolishing the filibuster, Ufot said she expects to see years of drawn out battles with Republican legislators over voting laws. “I don’t want to fight these same fights for 10 years,” Ufot told CNN.