A group of Democratic senators led by Joe Manchin has hashed out a “compromise” voting rights bill that moderates hope will attract at least some GOP support.
While the new version of the “For the People Act” has dropped several of the more objectionable elements, it has kept many more, including the ability of Congress to override several state laws dealing with ballot integrity. This is a non-starter for all Republicans in the Senate.
Manchin had urged the inclusion of a national voter ID standard that was eliminated when the final draft of the bill was completed. In short, this “compromise” legislation does nothing for voting integrity and swells federal power to interfere in local election processes and procedures.
The new Freedom to Vote Act retains significant portions of the For the People Act, Democrats’ marquee voting legislation that passed the House this year but was blocked by a Republican filibuster in June. Those include mandating national minimum standards for early voting and vote-by-mail, establishing Election Day as a national holiday, and creating new disclosure requirements for “dark money” groups that are not now required to disclose their donors.
The need for donor anonymity is greater than it’s ever been, considering what left-wing activists have done in the past. What is being sold as “transparency” is an open invitation for radical protesters to descend on the private residences of GOP donors. It’s the tactic used by gangsters and thugs and can never be allowed to take root.
For instance, a public financing system for congressional campaigns that would match small donations with federal funds on a 6-to-1 basis has been scaled back to an optional program for House campaigns only, requiring states to choose whether to participate. State and local election officials would have a freer hand to purge voter rolls than under the initial bill, and a provision to change the makeup of the Federal Election Commission, moving from an even split between the parties to an odd number of members in a bid to break partisan gridlock, has been omitted from the revised bill.
While the original bill mandated that states use nonpartisan commissions to draw congressional district lines in order to prevent gerrymandering, the revised bill does not require commissions. It instead creates federal criteria for mapmaking, gives courts the power to enforce them, and allows states to choose how to comply, whether by using a commission or another method.
The revised bill would still give Congress the power to override so-called “election subversion” laws, which Democrats worry could be used for GOP activists to target local election officials. It’s a strawman argument against ensuring voting integrity but would immunize local election officials from prosecution.
Majority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer made it fairly clear that this dog and pony show on voting rights is designed to make the GOP look bad.
“Let me be clear: Republicans refusing to support anything on voting rights is not an excuse for Democrats to do nothing,” he said in a floor speech. “I applaud my colleagues for their hard work and their progress to come together with a very strong voting rights bill that all Democrats can support, while respecting the role of states and promoting greater confidence in our democracy.
How do Democrats respect “the role of states and promoting greater confidence in our democracy” while steamrolling local election laws passed by legal majorities in many states? This is a blatant effort to get Washington to overturn laws passed in Republican-controlled states that Democrats don’t like. Their hysteria over voting rights must not be allowed to be codified into law.