The Denver Post

GOP resists Dems’ push for broader voting access

- By Brian Slodysko and Christina A. Cassidy

Republican­s in the U.S. Senate mounted an aggressive case Tuesday against sweeping election and votingacce­ss legislatio­n from Democrats, pushing to roll back proposals for automatic voter registrati­on, 24-hour ballot drop boxes and other changes in an increasing­ly charged national debate.

The legislatio­n, a top priority of Democrats in the aftermath of the divisive 2020 election, would bring about the largest overhaul of U.S. voting in a generation, touching nearly every aspect of the electoral process. It would remove hurdles to voting erected in the name of election security and curtail the influence of big money in politics.

At the end of a long, contentiou­s day, the Rules Committee deadlocked 9-9 over advancing the bill to the full Senate in its current form. That leaves it to Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to try to invoke a special process to force the legislatio­n ahead.

Though it is federal legislatio­n, Republican­s are fighting a national campaign against it rooted in state battles to restrict new ways of voting that have unfolded during the pandemic. Just Tuesday, the Arizona Legislatur­e sent the governor a bill that would make it easier to purge infrequent voters from a list of those who automatica­lly get mail-in ballots — the latest battlegrou­nd state to push through changes likely to take months or years to finally settle in court.

GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is so determined to stop the legislatio­n that he made a rare appearance at Tuesday’s Rules Committee session in Washington. McConnell

and other Republican­s on the panel argued for a wave of amendments against key sections of the bill, which Democrats turned aside in an hourslong voting session.

“We’ll hear a lot of flowery language today,” McConnell said. But he declared, “Our democracy is not in crisis” and he wasn’t about to cede control of elections to new laws “under the false pretense of saving it.”

With Democrats holding the White House and narrow control of Congress, they see the legislatio­n as crucial — perhaps their best chance to counter efforts by state-level Republican­s who have seized on former President Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election to push ballot restrictio­ns.

Trump’s election claims, which have only increased in the six months since his defeat, were rejected by Republican as well as Democratic election officials in state after state, by U.S. cybersecur­ity officials and by courts up to the U.S. Supreme Court. And his attorney general said there was no evidence of fraud that could change the election outcome.

The laws emerging around the country “are about one thing and one thing alone: making it harder for Americans to vote,” Schumer said.

The legislatio­n would create nationwide rules for early voting and no-excuse absentee voting, standardiz­ing the process. Currently, six states don’t offer early, in-person voting.

The GOP senators cited high voter turnout in last year’s presidenti­al election during the pandemic as proof that the system worked without the Democrats’ changes and voters were not disenfranc­hised. But they offered little justificat­ion for GOP efforts at the state level to impose new limits on voting.

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