Voting should be easy and accessible for every citizen. Several states are trying to make it harder. Passage of the For the People Act, H.R.1, is imperative to reverse that disturbing trend.
The last election saw the largest voter turnout in 120 years, with no voting irregularities or breakdowns that affected the results. The former president and his supporters continue to scream about rigged voting machines and millions of fraudulent votes, despite the glaring fact that such fraud would require an impossible impact on nearly 50,000 votes in five separate states.
Republican legislators in at least 28 states have introduced hundreds of new laws that would make voting harder by eliminating early voting, curtailing mail-in ballots, complicating voter registration and purging voter rolls. They claim to have “lost confidence” in the last election.
Republicans didn’t lose confidence. Donald Trump lost the presidency. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., lost his Senate majority power. Those losses are not without consequence, but they hardly justify threatening the voting rights of millions of people.
In Georgia, Republicans are attacking the election officials of their own party who had the integrity to stand up to presidential bullying. In Arizona, the woman who led the party to two Senate seat losses was rewarded with another term as state Republican Party chair.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 eliminated pernicious local regulations that prevented black voters from exercising their constitutional rights to be a part of the process. Instead of championing policy positions that appeal to a majority of all voters, state Republican parties seem determined to return to those post-Civil War tactics.
Suppressing voting is the antithesis of American values. H.R.1 would go a long way toward restoring basic voter protections for all citizens. It would require states to bring their election processes into the 21st century.
It would prevent states from making rules that unfairly penalize particular groups of citizens. Three provisions would create automatic voter registration, increase transparency in political advertising and require nonpartisan commissions to draw voting districts in order to stop gerrymandering.
H.R.1 would not, as its opponents duplicitously argue, allow noncitizens to vote. It would not make voter fraud easier. It would encourage high voter turnout, which is a good thing for the health and strength of any democracy.
Fifty-six years ago, after a bloody confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., the United States made a significant step toward giving all citizens an equal right to vote. Congress should recommit to that goal by passing H.R.1.
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