As Republicans in state legislatures around the country continue to advocate for suppressive new election restrictions, voting rights activist Stacey Abrams is sounding an alarm. The Republicans’ plans, Abrams noted in recent days, threaten the very foundation of democracy in the United States by simultaneously decreasing the power of individual voters and increasing the sway of partisan operatives.
In Georgia, Republicans recently passed legislation that replaces the Secretary of State — who is directly elected by and therefore directly accountable to Georgia voters — as chair of the state elections board with an appointee of the state legislature. That same legislation allows for that board to temporarily take over county-level administering of elections if a majority of the board concludes that local officials are guilty of behavior including “nonfeasance, malfeasance, or gross negligence” in at least two elections across a period of two years. Obviously, that’s a major threat to the integrity of local election results that might go some way other than the one preferred by Republicans in positions of state-level power.
In a discussion of voting rights protections that are under consideration in the U.S. Senate, Abrams commented as follows:
‘Unfortunately, we have been watching a slow-motion onslaught, where in state after state we are seeing anti-voter legislation, legislation that seeks to criminalize and intimidate election workers, and voting laws that will subvert democracy by making certain that small coteries of people can overturn election results. Those should be untenable to any American, and if Joe Manchin and the U.S. Senators who support [the For the People Act] are willing to come together on a compromise, then we will make progress. We will help to continue to ensure access to our democracy for as many Americans as possible, and that is always a native good.’
Stacey Abrams: "We have been watching a slow-motion onslaught, where state after state we are seeing anti-voter legislation, legislation that seeks to criminalize and intimidate election workers, and voting laws that will subvert democracy." pic.twitter.com/tgByZjpTbR
— The Hill (@thehill) June 20, 2021
Recently, Manchin — who is one of the most conservatively minded Democrats in the Senate and is the only Senate Democrat who hasn’t signed on as a co-sponsor of the voting rights legislation known as the For the People Act — presented a list of measures that he was willing to support, including a ban on drawing district lines to favor particular political parties. Abrams offered her support for Manchin’s proposals — but Senate Republicans have already indicated their opposition to the West Virginia Senator’s more modest reform agenda as well.