Amy Klobuchar Makes Emergency Push To Save Democracy From GOP

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Amid the push by Democratic leaders to enact new protections at the federal level for voting rights, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) spoke out over the weekend to outline what’s unfolding and what the situation demands. At present, Democratic leaders are focusing on two bills, including the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which have been introduced in the Senate and would shore up protections for voting rights in unique ways. Specifically, Klobuchar commented about the startling pace of efforts by Republican leaders in states around the country to put new restrictions on the electoral process in place.

As she put it:

‘Over 425 voter suppression bills in 49 states. That’s what we’re up against. That’s why we need federal voting rights legislation.’

These hundreds of bills — a number of which have been enacted — have taken diverse forms but share a draconian nature. As recently summarized by assistant Attorney General for civil rights Kristen Clarke at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Americans have recently seen “cuts to early voting periods, burdensome restrictions to register or vote, racially gerrymandered redistricting plans, polling sites eliminated or consolidated in communities of color, eligible voters purged from the rolls, and more.” As one example, Georgia authorities recently imposed a limit on the number of drop boxes for mail-in ballots that individual counties can have, capping such boxes at one per early voting site or 100,000 registered voters, whichever number is smaller. The requirements are set to force Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, to go from the 38 drop boxes it had for last year’s election to just eight in upcoming elections.

In the Senate, filibuster rules currently threaten to stand in the way of passing voting rights protections, but Klobuchar has insisted that changes to the rules are on the table. At present, the rules demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving forward on most bills, meaning that most successful legislative initiatives must be at least nominally bipartisan — but Mitch McConnell isn’t exactly known for bipartisanship. Klobuchar said that Democrats going to “do everything we can to make the case” for legislation including the Freedom to Vote Act and “go to the procedures if we need to” — meaning examine potential changes to the filibuster rules.