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Mar-15-2021 15:30printcomments

Combating Voter Suppression in GOP-Controlled States

The best response is a sweeping expansion of federal voting rights.

filibuster
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(SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.) - As of February 25, 2021, 43 Republican-controlled states have together introduced over 250 bills to restrict voting access after the 2020 election.

Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2018 and founder of the voting rights group Fair Fight, called the Georgia restrictions “a redux of Jim Crow in a suit and tie.”

On March 5, 2021, the Democrat-controlled House responded by passing House Resolution 1 (H.R.1), the For the People Act of 2021. H.R.1 is a sweeping expansion of federal voting rights aimed at countering G.O.P. attempts to clamp down on ballot access.

It would impose new national requirements weakening restrictive state voter ID laws, mandate automatic voter registration, expand early and mail-in voting, make it harder to purge voter rolls, restore voting rights to former felons, and restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts. The Senate must find a way to pass H.R.1.

In addition, the Senate needs to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act (VRA), passed by the House. Enacted in 1965, the VRA prohibits racial discrimination in elections. But the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby v. Holder gutted Section 5, a key part of the VRA.

Section 5 required state and local governments with records of voter discrimination to preclear voting changes with the Justice Department to ensure the changes were not racially discriminatory, which stopped many discriminatory provisions from taking effect.

This cleared the path for states to pass a slew of laws that disenfranchise voters and discriminate against voters of color.

All this talk about bipartisanship is a lot of bunk. Let's face it, the Republicans don’t want Biden to succeed.

If Democrats don’t want their agenda landing in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s legislative graveyard, they will have to eliminate or modify the Senate filibuster rule. What’s at stake? -- keeping Democrat control of the House and Senate in the mid-term elections on November 8, 2022.

Unfortunately, it is not clear the Senate Democrats have the 50 votes plus the vice president’s vote to eliminate the filibuster rule; Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have defended the filibuster as part of what they assert is a longstanding Senate custom.

Stacey Abrams proposes tweaking the filibuster rule to allow major voting rights legislation to pass with a simple majority; this may appease Senators Manchin and Sinema.

The cure for political dysfunction is majority rule.

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