What You Need To Know:
The fight for voting rights on Capitol Hill continues this month, as Senate Democrats prepare to begin internal debates over the issue. Democrats who made a commitment to making crucial voting reforms through a large House package say a pathway remains unclear as it currently has no GOP support. Opposition also exists within the Democratic party, as at least a half-dozen Democrats have issues with the bill.
“We know we’ve got to pass voting rights,” said Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.). “We ought to have 10 Republicans … in that sense the ball is in their court. I’m not saying the outcome is in their court.”
When it comes to passing voting rights legislation, the stakes are high, potentially affecting future Democratic majorities. Many in the party privately worry that Democrats, like Warnock or House Democrats vulnerable to redistricting, could lose their seats if Congress doesn’t send a federal election and ethics bill to the president’s desk by this summer.
In addition, the release of the 2020 Census results indicate upcoming redistricting of congressional districts. The Center for American Progress (CAP) estimates that since 2010, there have been 59 seats in the House of Representatives that were tipped because of unfair redistricting, or gerrymandering. Democrats and Republicans have used gerrymandering in their favor, but the GOP has historically used the tactic far more aggressively and with greater political success than Democrats.
Reluctant Democrats suggest the focus should be on the voting rights standalone bill, named after the late Congressman John Lewis. The bill would restore a requirement that certain jurisdictions receive approval from the Justice Department or D.C. District court before making changes to voting laws.
Others continue to push for the “For the People Act,” a far-reaching bill that would create some federally-mandated voting rules and require no-excuse mail and in-person early voting. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has repeatedly said “failure is not an option” on the package and wants to put the bill on the floor by August to give states time to implement it.
“No amount of reconciliation success will excuse Democrats’ failure on this front and they will go down in history as the ‘peace in our time’ party of appeasers in an era of rising racist fascism,” said Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible, a progressive group.
Why We Need To Know:
Meanwhile, Republican governors nationwide are quickly enacting laws to make casting a ballot more difficult. GOP leaders, like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have become particularly critical of voting by mail, citing voter fraud as the reason for passing the restrictive legislation April 29. But some Republicans in Florida say their own political fortunes are at risk, adding the Republican Party is hurting itself to support Trump’s false allegations of mail-in-voting fraud. Millions of Republicans use the method to cast their votes, inching out historic, narrowly-won victories for GOP candidates, including DeSantis himself.
Will the GOP’s attack on mail-in-voting backfire?