This week, Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed a wide-ranging new elections reform package into law that imposes serious new restrictions around the electoral process. Among many other provisions, for instance, the legislation outlaws providing water to people standing in line to vote, and it restricts the usage of absentee ballot drop-boxes to business hours, which could almost completely shut out working people hoping to use them. On Friday, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) condemned the move and insisted that the onus is on Senate Republicans to explain why they won’t defend voting rights.
Some have called for changes to the filibuster rule in the U.S. Senate to allow an easier passage of new voting rights protections. At present, the filibuster rule demands the agreement of 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving to a vote on most legislation, meaning that members of the minority can band together and stop progress. Warnock noted that a focus on Democrats potentially joining together for filibuster changes ignores the Republican obstruction making those changes possibly useful at all.
As Warnock put it:
‘Folks keep asking what we are going to do about the filibuster. I think they ought to ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle — what are they going to do about voting rights? The question really is not where do I stand on the filibuster — that’s a Senate rule. The most fundamental question is, Where do you stand on voting rights? We wouldn’t have to have this debate about the filibuster, at least on this issue, if the folks on the other side would do the right thing and stand for voting rights.’
Republicans have cast recent elections reform measures as necessary to help safeguard the integrity of the process. They’re responding, however, to a problem that largely doesn’t exist, at least in the way that some Republicans have claimed. In the 2020 elections, no meaningful evidence of remotely systematic fraud ever emerged.
As Warnock pointedly put it:
‘Why won’t [Republicans] stand up for voting rights? They see what’s happening right here in Georgia. They see legislators deciding that it’s a crime to give people water who are standing in lines that they’re making longer.’
Check out Warnock’s comments below:
that walk back to the mic 🔥 watch this ⬇️ #gapol
"Folks keep asking what we are going to do about the filibuster. I think they ought to ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, what are they going to do about voting rights? Why won't they stand up for voting rights?" pic.twitter.com/YNInaQAcOA
— Lauren Passalacqua (@laurenvpass) March 26, 2021