On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that he opposes so-called compromises on voting rights legislation that were recently put forward by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Manchin proposed “banning partisan gerrymandering, requiring voter ID, having at least 15 consecutive days of early voting, and making Election Day a public holiday,” as summarized by Axios, and after his ambitions emerged, voting rights activist and former Georgia state legislative leader Stacey Abrams said that she’d support a bill including what Manchin suggested.
Bizarrely, McConnell singled out Abrams’s endorsement of the Manchin plan in his remarks about the proposal, despite the fact that — at present — she’s simply a private citizen voicing her opinion about something critical to the direction of the country, as any private citizen has the right to do. Republicans have obsessively gone after Abrams, who has been involved in voter outreach work like voter registration drives. The GOP’s insistence upon villiainzing her definitely has racist overtones, considering she is Black.
McConnell commented on Thursday as follows:
‘Senate Democrats seem to have reached a so-called ‘compromise’ election takeover among themselves. In reality, the plan endorsed by Stacey Abrams is no compromise… It still subverts the First Amendment to supercharge cancel culture and the left’s name-and-shame campaign model. It takes redistricting away from state legislatures and hands it over to computers… And it still retains [the For the People Act’s] rotten core: an assault on the fundamental idea that states, not the federal government, should decide how to run their own elections.’
McConnell rips Manchin’s proposed “compromise” on voting:
“Senate Democrats seem to have reached a so-called ‘compromise’ election takeover among themselves. In reality, the plan endorsed by Stacey Abrams is no compromise.”
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) June 17, 2021
Yet again, a Republican leader has resorted to dramatic rhetoric instead of meaningfully engaging with the policy issues in front of them. If McConnell is so committed to what he called “the fundamental idea that states, not the federal government, should decide how to run their own elections,” then what would he say about the federal supervision of voting technology, which has to be certified before use? What would he say about federal efforts like the 1965 Voting Rights Act that were meant to protect the right to vote? What he said isn’t a policy proposal — it’s a barely defined idea, so where is the line?
In reality, Republican state legislators around the country have recently sought to impose — and, in a selection of cases, have successfully enacted — suppressive new voting restrictions that connect to no documented systematic election integrity problem but do make it punitively more difficult to vote.