Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) has now called once again for the swift passage of new federal protections for voting rights as Republicans around the country put suppressive new election laws in place. These GOP-backed laws do not respond to any actual, documented, systematic election integrity problem — since such a problem does not exist in the United States — but the laws do make voting more difficult, especially for marginalized populations. For example, new restrictions around the usage of drop boxes for mail-in ballots could make accessing those boxes significantly more difficult for voters like those from lower income groups, who may have a harder time setting aside time to complete their ballots.
On Twitter, Warnock commented as follows this week:
‘We are in a 9-1-1 emergency for our democracy—with voter suppression laws being enacted at alarming rates in states across the nation. When Congress returns from recess, we must prioritize passing federal voting rights legislation. This pivotal moment requires nothing less.’
We are in a 9-1-1 emergency for our democracy—with voter suppression laws being enacted at alarming rates in states across the nation.
When Congress returns from recess, we must prioritize passing federal voting rights legislation. This pivotal moment requires nothing less.
— Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (@SenatorWarnock) August 12, 2021
One major proposal to protect voting rights is the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would reinstate a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that required pre-approval by federal authorities before the implementation of certain changes to the conducting of elections. The hope with that rule in place would be to allow federal authorities the chance to stop at least some instances of voter suppression before they begin — and indeed, Attorney General Merrick Garland explained in a recent op-ed for The Washington Post how the Justice Department was able to stop “thousands of discriminatory voting changes that would have curtailed the voting rights of millions of citizens in jurisdictions large and small” while the provision was in effect.
Some of the new election provisions that Republicans have put in place could have significantly damaging results. An NBC affiliate serving areas including part of Georgia explained, for instance, how a provision in a recently enacted Georgia law stating that “each county can’t have more than one drop box per early voting site or per 100,000 active registered voters, whichever number is smaller” is set to “dramatically reduce the number of drop boxes available in some large counties.” Authorities in Fulton County — an area where Biden won — have indicated that they’d be forced to have just eight drop boxes for ballots in their jurisdiction instead of the 38 that were present last year.