Opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of The Flume
We are fortunate in Colorado to have a very high quality voting system: automatic mail-in ballots, online registration, early voting, 368 drop boxes, the ability to drop your ballot into any county drop box and the restoration of voting rights to felons that have served their time or are on probation. Thanks to a majority of Democrats in the state legislature, voter suppression efforts by Colorado Republicans have failed. Thanks to a Democratic Secretary of State, the people’s vote in November wasn’t questioned.
Elsewhere, 43 states with Republican legislative majorities have introduced 250 bills to limit the ability of the people to vote, primarily targeting minority and low income communities. The reason usually given for these bills is to restore voter confidence.
Let us be clear, the instances of voter fraud are extremely rare. Despite the claims of the former president, mail-in ballots do not lead to dead people and non-citizens voting. Five states, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington, hold their elections primarily by mail and have documented almost no cases of cheating. Oregon, for example, has sent out more than 100 million mail ballots since 2000 and has reported only a dozen cases of proven voter fraud.
The former Attorney General, William Barr, stated that the U.S. Department of Justice has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud. The only reason that voter confidence needs to be restored is because of the Big Lie about the 2020 election. The best way to restore voter confidence is to have Republicans say that there was no election fraud and that Biden won fair and square.
Why aren’t Republican congressmen saying this? They would risk losing re-election with their Trump voter base.
On Friday, March 26, the governor of Georgia signed a 95-page bill designed to suppress the vote. Included in this legislation are laws to strip the power from the secretary of state (who stood up to Trump’s demand that he change the results of the 2020 election) and makes it a crime to give water or food to people waiting in line to vote. I can’t imagine that it would be possible for such a law to be implemented in 2021, but it seems that we are still fighting for the right of minorities to vote. President Biden called the new voter suppression laws the new Jim Crow.
One can only hope that these racist voter suppression laws backfire on the GOP. In a December Gallup poll, only 25% of Americans identified as Republicans. People fled the party in droves after the insurrection on Jan. 6. In the Senate, Democrats represent 41.5 million more people than Republicans.
Democrats narrowly hold a majority in the House in part because so many districts are gerrymandered, making it nearly impossible for a Democrat to get elected. Republicans know that their policies are not popular with the majority of Americans, but rather than amending their policies they are trying to suppress the will of the people.
It is wrong that the minority should be able to deny the will of the majority. Our representatives should be working for the people, not for the corporations that fund their elections.
Democrats passed the For the People Act on March 3 with a vote along party lines of 220-210 in the House of Representatives. The bill makes voting easier, not harder. The bill would require states to offer same-day voter registration for federal elections, allow early voting for at least two weeks, and make Election Day a federal holiday.
The bill also includes provisions for campaign finance reform to limit the influence of money in politics, it limits partisan gerrymandering and creates new ethics rules for federal office holders. Who wouldn’t want that?
I know I would, but Republicans will do whatever they can to make sure this doesn’t pass because they know that the more people vote the less likely Republicans are to win. They’ve even said it publicly. The former president said it. Georgia’s State House Speaker David Ralston said that proposals in the 2020 election that will drive voter turnout will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives.
In order for the For the People Act to pass the Senate the filibuster needs to be modified or eliminated. The framers of the Constitution did not intend that there be anything beyond a simple majority for legislation to pass. If the For the People act does not pass the Senate this country risks losing our democracy and the will of the majority of the people. As Lincoln said, “that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from this earth.”