On Wednesday, Republican Senators blocked a measure regarding voting reform, which Democrats had authored in response to various conservative states’ passage of voter integrity laws in the wake of the 2020 presidential election.
Only one Republican lawmaker, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, joined alongside other Democrats to support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. However, in spite of Murkowski’s support of the Democrats, the measure fell nine votes short of the sixty votes required in order to advance the bill.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Act had been authored by a group of liberal and centrist Democrats. The bill represented a modified effort of an earlier bill, given that modification was necessary in order to secure support from Democrat Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
The legislation would provide for restoring elements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, namely the elements that have been struck down over the past few years by the Supreme Court. In addition, the bill would include additional provisions that would presumably expand voter access.
Democrats who support the bill argue that the legislation will make voting easier and more accessible. However, Republicans argue that the legislation will ultimately harm voter integrity, especially since it would constitute a de facto federalization of localized elections.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed displeasure with the Democrats, noting that the bill “has become an almost weekly routine.”
“My friends on the other side trying to give Washington unprecedented power over how Americans cast their vote,” McConnell continued in disgust.
Over the past year, numerous Senate and House Democrats have taken several actions ostensibly designed to reform voter laws in advance of the high-stakes 2022 midterm election cycle.
Currently, Democrats hold fairly slim majorities in the House and Senate, and several appear on track to lose seats in the upcoming election.
In the earlier part of the year, Republican Senators successfully blocked legislation passed in the House, which would have implemented sweeping campaign and election reforms. Republicans note that these reforms would have leaned largely in favor of the Democrats.
On their part, Democrats continue arguing that the Republicans are deliberately obstructing the expansion of voter access, oftentimes accusing conservative representatives of supporting “Jim Crow” legislation. “Jim Crow” laws were notorious for preventing African-Americans from exercising their right to vote.
Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, has openly criticized changes to voting laws in various conservative states, including Texas and Georgia. The New York Democrat proclaims that the states’ voter integrity laws comprise “the greatest coordinated effort at the state level to suppress voting rights since the era of segregation.”
According to the Democrats, controversial elements of voter integrity laws include showing an ID in order to vote.