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Democrats Return From Recess and Revise Elections Bill, But Still Expect Republican Obstruction

Democrats Return From Recess and Revise Elections Bill, But Still Expect Republican Obstruction

Senate Democrats unveiled a pared-back elections bill Tuesday in hopes of boosting their stalled push to counteract new laws in Republican states that could make it more difficult to cast a ballot.

But the new compromise legislation is likely doomed to fail in the 50-50 Senate, facing the same lockstep Republican opposition that scuttled their previous attempts to pass an even more sweeping bill. The GOP blasted the earlier measure as “unnecessary” and a “partisan power grab.”

LANSING, MICHIGAN – NOVEMBER 02: A voter fills out her ballot on the last day of early voting at the Lansing City Clerk’s office on November 02, 2020 in Lansing, Michigan. In 2016 U.S. President Donald Trump narrowly won Michigan, which is now a main battleground state. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Republican-controlled legislatures have enacted restrictions over the past year in the name of election security that will make it harder to vote and could make the administration of the elections more subject to partisan interference. Texas, which already has some of the country’s strictest voting rules, recently adopted a law that will further limit the ability to cast a ballot, empower party poll watchers and create new criminal penalties for those who run afoul of the rules — even if unintentionally.

The new voting laws — many inspired by Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election — have ratcheted up pressure on Democrats in Congress to pass legislation that could counteract the GOP push. Trump’s claims of election fraud were widely rejected in the courts, by state officials who certified the results and by his own attorney general. The revised legislation was negotiated for weeks by a group of Democratic senators and includes many of the same provisions as the previous bill, known as the For the People Act.

“We have seen unprecedented attacks on our democracy in states across the country. These attacks demand an immediate federal response,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the lead sponsor of the new bill, which would establish national rules for running elections, limit partisanship in the drawing of congressional districts and force the disclosure of many anonymous donors who spend big to influence elections. The new measure also dumps language that would have created a public financing system for federal elections. It would instead establish a more limited financing system for House candidates that states could opt to participate in.

But it also includes a number of changes sought by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who is the chamber’s most conservative Democrat. That includes provisions that would limit, but not prohibit, state voter ID requirements, as well as the elimination of a proposed overhaul of the Federal Election Commission, which was intended to alleviate partisan gridlock at the election watchdog agency.

 

 

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