Mar 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McConnell claims "states are not engaging in trying to suppress voters"

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) claimed during a hearing Wednesday that Democrats' signature voting rights bill, the "For the People Act," is unnecessary because "states are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever."

Reality check: Republican lawmakers across the country are trying to pass measures to make it more difficult to vote by limiting mail-in ballots, implementing new voter ID requirements and slashing registration options.

  • "There are at least 165 proposals under consideration in 33 states so far this year to restrict future voting access," Axios' Russell Contreras and Stef Kight wrote in February.
  • In South Carolina, a proposal would require signature matching for absentee ballots. A New Hampshire proposal would allow anyone to observe polls "without obstruction." A Texas plan would require that the Department of Public Safety verify voters' citizenship.
  • "Some of these voter suppression laws in Georgia and other Republican states smack of Jim Crow rearing its ugly head once again," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) claimed ahead of McConnell's comments.

The big picture: McConnell and Schumer both made rare appearances at a hearing of the Senate Rules Committee, which is examining the Democratic proposal to expand voter registration (e.g., automatic and same-day registration) and voting access (e.g., vote by mail and early voting).

  • The For the People Act would require states to establish independent redistricting commissions to carry out congressional redistricting to eliminate partisan gerrymandering.
  • It would also expand the prohibition on campaign spending by foreign nationals, require additional campaign finance disclosures, force presidential and vice presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns, reform the Federal Election Commission, and more.

Between the lines: Protection of voting rights is one of the key issues that Democrats have said warrants getting rid of the 60-vote filibuster if Republicans insist on blocking the legislation.

What he's saying: "States are not engaged in trying to suppress voters whatsoever," McConnell said.

  • "This is clearly an effort by one party to rewrite the rules of our political system. But even more immediately, it would create an implementation nightmare ... that would drown state and local officials who run elections.
  • "This proposal needs all the scrutiny it can get and I'm glad we're all here to give it that scrutiny," McConnell added.
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