The United States Senate is preparing to schedule a vote on voting rights legislation that purports to be a “compromise” measure after Senate Republicans repeatedly blocked attempts to standardize access to ballots and eliminate ballots. long-standing barriers to voting rights.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced in a letter to senators on Oct. 14 that he plans to begin procedural votes on the Freedom to Vote Act, a bill that effectively replaces the For the People Act with a shorter list of voting rights proposals. October 20.
“This is consequential voting rights legislation,” he announced Thursday. “I would establish [common sense] standards for our democracy and help combat suppressive voting laws. “
The Voting Freedom Act follows months of debate to rally lawmakers behind an antidote to Republican-led state restrictions on access to ballots ahead of critical midterm elections and a redistricting cycle that it could redraw political boundaries for the next decade.
But he is likely to face the same universal opposition from Republicans in Congress, as his counterparts at the state level wage a coordinated legislative campaign to make voting more difficult and consolidate electoral oversight in the hands of GOP-dominated state legislatures.
States are also beginning to redesign political maps once a decade for the first time since the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act in 1964 without federal oversight to prevent racial discrimination at the polls.
At least 19 states have enacted 33 restrictive voting laws, as of September, according to an analysis of the Brennan Center for Justice.
The latest Senate measure is based on a framework by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who joined Republican opposition to the For The People Act, which was struck down by Republican obstructionism and rejected a second time in a final attempt during budget debates. .
To move the latest bill forward, Senate Democrats will need the support of at least 10 Republicans to reach a 60-vote threshold to overcome Republican filibuster.
The Freedom of Voting Act proposes nationwide standards for early and mail voting, safeguards against partisan gerrymandering, automatic voter registration, and the creation of Election Day as a holiday, among other measures.
It also includes Senator Manchin’s demands for nationwide voter identification standards, allowing voters to “present a broad set of identification cards and documents in print and digital form,” according to a statement from lawmakers.
“Senator Manchin has been involved in conversations with our Republican colleagues in hopes of advancing bipartisan solutions to ensure that all Americans make their voices heard in our democracy,” Senator Schumer wrote Thursday.
But when asked during a call with reporters this month how those talks have progressed, Senator Angus King of Maine said “my sense is not right.”
“I’ve spoken to Republicans myself,” he said, adding that he believes “he’s not getting very far.”
“The Republican strategy now appears to be … limiting voter turnout,” said Senator King, an News Logics who joined Senate Democrats to help negotiate the bill. “I don’t think Republicans here are interested in short-circuiting what their brothers and sisters are doing across the country.”
Senator King said he plans to introduce a measure, either as an amendment or a separate bill, that will address how state legislatures handle electoral counts to avoid partisan interference.
“This is critical,” he said. “I am concerned about my country, and I am concerned about the weakening of the fundamental process by which we ensure the peaceful transfer of power.”