A group of prominent anti-Trump Republicans have banded together for a new project: Republicans for Voting Rights. Those involved in the organization are planning on a multi-pronged approach to go after the subversion of democracy perpetrated by former President Trump and his allies, and their plan includes support for increased voting rights protections, putting them at odds with many Republican leaders. In Congress, Republicans have resisted attempts by top Democrats to enact new protections for voting rights as Republicans in positions of state-level authority implement suppressive new election restrictions, partly under the guise of the false claim that last year’s elections had systematic integrity problems.
Those involved with Republicans for Voting Rights include conservative media figure Bill Kristol, former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele, former Republican congressman Mickey Edwards, and Republican strategist Sarah Longwell, among others. Amanda Carpenter, another prominent anti-Trump Republican who is involved with the new group, praised the prominent members of the GOP who have backed democracy amid Trump’s antics. As she put it, “We need people like that in the party… We’re better for it.”
Plans of Republicans for Voting Rights include an ad campaign insisting that “Current Republican efforts to restrict voting undermine democracy and betray America’s deepest values.” Restrictions on voting that have been backed by Republicans have been imposed in states like Georgia and Florida, with other proposals elsewhere, and these restrictions have included new limits on the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots, near-complete restrictions on providing food and water to voters waiting in line at polling places, and, in Georgia, new voter ID requirements for mail-in voting, despite the lack of any documented, systematic election integrity problems connected to the state’s previous, signature-based system for verifying mail-in ballots.
Carpenter commented to Greg Sargent of The Washington Post that Republicans for Voting Rights will be “extremely supportive” of attempts to protect voting rights, adding that last year’s presidential election revealed how “when you give people more voting options, more people vote,” which she called “something that should be celebrated.” Those behind Republicans for Voting Rights also oppose what the Post summarized as “election subversion,” which includes moves like a push by Republicans in Arizona to eliminate the ability of Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs to defend election lawsuits, leaving the cases to be handled by other — Republican — state officials.
Notably, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) — whose position as a sitting member of Congress provides him with relatively unique authorities — recently acknowledged the issues underlying Republican efforts to impose voting restrictions, although he also claimed that certain procedural changes weren’t as serious as Democrats made them out to be. Discussing the restrictions, Kinzinger said, “Anyway, let’s be honest about why all this is happening: It is a de facto acceptance of the big lie… Anybody who is eligible to vote should be able to vote. It is also easier now for people to vote than it has ever been at any time in American history. You have mail-in voting, absentee voting, same-day voting, early voting. If you’re losing a race, it’s your fault. It’s not because all the people you don’t want to vote are voting.”