A group of House Democrats sent a letter to Senate Dems this week that urged the passage of the Freedom to Vote Act, which is one of the monumental pieces of voting rights legislation that Democratic leaders have put forward. All 50 Democratic Senators have indicated their support for the bill, but unfortunately, the legislative initiative seemed set for defeat in the Senate because of the 100-member chamber’s filibuster rules, which demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators before moving forward on most bills. Thus, most successful bills must be at least somewhat bipartisan, and Senate Republicans have largely proven not to be inclined towards bipartisanship.
House Democrats have urged the Senate to act quickly to pass the Freedom to Vote Act saying that, “America is strongest when our democratic institutions are strong, when they reflect and project the confidence of our people.”https://t.co/NiYzSemr62
— NDRC (@DemRedistrict) October 20, 2021
There’d been talk of seeking to get enough Republicans on board to hit that 60-vote mark, but Republicans continued to seem unified against the bill as Democrats continued their push. The letter from House Democrats was led by Rep. Colin Allred (Texas), whose state is one of many where Republican leaders have imposed suppressive new restrictions around elections, despite the absence of any documented problem of systematic election integrity in the United States.
The new letter reads, in part, as follows:
‘America is strongest when our democratic institutions are strong, when they reflect and project the confidence of our people. The Freedom to Vote Act can fortify our democracy and bring Americans of all political stripes back into the town square, where the vitality of our ideas and experiences can be shared with respect, dynamism and hope for the future.’
The Freedom to Vote Act includes a raft of provisions to make voting in federal elections more accessible. As explained by CNN, it would (among other things) “make it easier to register to vote, make Election Day a public holiday, ensure states have early voting for federal elections and allow all voters to request mail-in ballots.” Republicans have complained about the supposed federal takeover of the electoral process that is inherent in the proposal, but federal authorities are not legally tasked with sitting idly by while Constitutional rights like the right to vote are trampled upon.
Personally, Allred added as follows to CNN:
‘Voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around. Partisan gerrymandering produces more extreme politicians, leads to gridlock and drowns out the voices of certain Americans. With states like Texas getting closer to approving extremely gerrymandered maps, the Senate must swiftly pass the Freedom to Vote Act to protect our democracy.’
Gerrymandering is something else that would be addressed by the Freedom to Vote Act, were it to become law. It straightforwardly bans states from crafting district maps that have “the intent or… the effect of materially favoring or disfavoring any political party.” Republicans continue to deny the need for these sorts of reforms while simultaneously pushing policies that only exacerbate the urgency of enacting them.