The Voting Wars Come to Capitol Hill: Democrats Eye National Elections Overhaul Amid GOP Crackdown

Mar 2, 2021
In The News

The turbulent debate over the nation’s elections reached Congress’s doorstep this week, with House Democrats poised to pass sweeping nationwide standards for voter access Wednesday just as Republican lawmakers in dozens of states move to restrict polling access after Donald Trump’s November loss.Meanwhile, state lawmakers are barreling ahead with major rollbacks of early voting, mail voting and other state provisions that Trump and other Republicans oppose, while the Supreme Court on Tuesday heard a challenge to Arizona’s election laws that could further curtail the federal government’s power to police elections.... House leaders anticipate near-unanimous Democratic support — and zero Republican backing — for their bill known as H.R. 1, or the “For the People Act,” that would overhaul elections, campaign finance and government ethics law. Some liberal lawmakers are pushing to ditch Senate filibuster rules to pass it into law without Republican support.... The Democrats’ legislative answer to the Republican effort is a sprawling 791-page bill that establishes national standards for voter access — mandating online registration, voting by mail, at least 15 days of early voting and the restoration of voting rights for released felons. The bill also mandates congressional redistricting be done by independent commissions, requires the disclosure of “dark money” contributions to political groups, and creates a system of public financing for congressional campaigns, among dozens of other provisions.... Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), H.R. 1’s lead author, said Democrats should feel a sense of urgency to bust through any roadblocks given the scale of the Republican effort to curtail voting rights ahead of the 2022 midterms — for which the GOP is also counting on a partisan redistricting effort for an additional House advantage. “It’s important to keep this moving,” he said. “Republicans are absolutely determined to throw as many obstacles up as they possibly can, and exhibit A is Georgia, exhibit B is Pennsylvania, exhibit C is Arizona. And the list goes on and on from there, so the stakes could not be higher.”