Democrats Begin Push for Biggest Expansion of Voting Since 1960s


“Talk about ‘shame,’” he added later.

Some Republicans resorted to lies or distortions to condemn the measure, falsely claiming that Democrats were seeking to cheat by enfranchising undocumented immigrants or encouraging illegal voting. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said the bill aimed to register millions of unauthorized immigrants, though that would remain unlawful under the measure.

The clash laid bare just how sharply the two parties have diverged on the issue of voting rights, which attracted bipartisan support for years after the civil rights movement but more recently has become a bitter partisan battleground. At times, Republicans and Democrats appeared to be wrestling with irreconcilably different views of the problems plaguing the election system.

Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, the top Republican on the Senate Rules Committee, which convened the hearing, said states were taking appropriate steps to restore public confidence after 2020 by imposing laws that require voters to show identification before voting and limiting so-called ballot harvesting, where others collect voters’ completed absentee ballots and submit them to election officials. He said that if Democrats were allowed to rush through changes on the national level, “chaos will reign in the next election and voters will have less confidence than they currently do.”

The suggestion piqued Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota and the committee chairwoman, who shot back that it was the current elections system — an uneven patchwork of state laws and evolving voting rules — that had caused “chaos” at polling places.

“Chaos is what we’ve seen in the last years — five-hour or six-hour lines in states like Arizona to vote. Chaos is purging names of longtime voters from a voter list so they can’t go vote in states like Georgia,” she said. “What this bill tries to do is to simply make it easier for people to vote and take the best practices that what we’ve seen across the country, and put it into law as we are allowed to do under the Constitution.”

With Republicans unified against them, Democrats’ best hope for enacting the legislation increasingly appears to be to try to leverage its voting protections — to justify triggering the Senate’s so-called nuclear option: the elimination of the filibuster rule requiring 60 votes, rather than a simple majority, to advance most bills.


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