January 13, 2022

Biden’s Speech

President Joe Biden on Tuesday made a full-throated appeal for U.S. voting rights legislation stalled in Congress, saying Democratic lawmakers should rewrite Senate rules to overcome Republican opposition.” Reuters

Here’s a transcript of the speech. White House

Here’s our coverage of the filibuster and the For the People Act (HR 1). The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left argues that federal voting legislation is necessary to counter Republican maneuvers at the state level.

Former President Barack Obama writes, “State legislators in 49 states have introduced more than 400 bills designed to suppress votes… We’re also seeing more aggressive attempts to gerrymander congressional districts. Gerrymandering, which essentially allows politicians to choose their voters instead of the other way around, isn’t new – and both parties have engaged in it. But what we’re seeing now are far more aggressive and precise efforts on the part of Republican state legislatures to tilt the playing field in their favor…

“Finally and perhaps most perniciously, we’ve seen state legislatures try to assert power over core election processes including the ability to certify election results… America’s long-standing grand experiment in democracy is being sorely tested. Future generations are counting on us to meet that test.”
Barack Obama, USA Today

“Election law changes last year undid bipartisan local elections boards in rural Georgia, ceding political appointments to partisan county commissioners. One case — Lincoln County, north of Augusta — resulted in a new elections board proposing to close six of its seven polling locations. The board’s chair, Lilvender Bolton, said the move was necessary to manage Covid-19 concerns. But the rural county of about 8,000 residents — a third Black, a quarter in poverty — has no public transportation system, and the move would leave most of its voters more than 15 miles from the remaining poll…

“Local leaders say they are demanding federal action because these moves by Republicans are meant to whittle away at the margins of the vote in a state where the next election is likely to be decided by a percentage point.”
George Chidi, The Intercept

“Georgia lawmakers put themselves in charge of the state election board and gave it the power to suspend county election officials. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) called on the Republican state legislature to take over election administration in his state. Republicans purged a Michigan official who certified the 2020 vote totals there… States should be required to meet basic national voting standards, offering early voting, absentee ballot access, automatic voter registration and protections for nonpartisan election workers."
Editorial Board, Washington Post

“What’s so odd is that Republicans, if they trusted data instead of ‘leaders’ like Trump and McConnell, would see they have little to fear from the high voter turnout they are trying to suppress… Just look at [Trump’s] strong, Latino-fueled performance in south Florida in 2020, his national 32% share of the Latino vote, or his 12% of the Black vote – up from 8% in 2016…

“Virginia Republicans elected a governor last year after Democratic reforms made voting more convenient… Pay attention, Republicans… when your supporters can vote, your candidates can win.”
Jill Lawrence, USA Today

Some note that "Former President Donald Trump's efforts to keep himself in office despite losing the 2020 election were made possible by exploiting ambiguities in the text of the [Electoral Count Act of 1887]… [A recently proposed bill in the Senate] would seek to eliminate those ambiguities… The bill taking shape in the Senate is far better than none at all. The question is whether 10 Republican senators can be persuaded to support it.”
Damon Linker, The Week

From the Right

The right is critical of Biden’s speech and argues that federal voting legislation is unnecessary.

The right is critical of Biden’s speech and argues that federal voting legislation is unnecessary.

“Mr. Biden’s speech in Georgia was a call to bulldoze the Senate’s filibuster to pass a rebranded version of H.R.1, a bill that would impose a federal election code on all 50 states, including forcing them to count late mail ballots that lack postmarks. If you happen to think that’s a bad idea, or that it’s unconstitutional, or that nuking the filibuster would hurt the Senate, well, then apparently you’re against Abraham Lincoln

“Georgia had zero dropboxes before the pandemic election of 2020, and now they’re enshrined in permanent law. This isn’t ‘Jim Crow 2.0,’ no matter how many times Mr. Biden uses that incendiary phrase. People disagree about the security of stand-alone dropboxes, but voters can also put absentee ballots in the mailbox. As for Georgia, all of its residents can request a mail ballot without giving an excuse, unlike in New York or Delaware. And here’s a figure Mr. Biden should know: In 2020, the Census Bureau says, black voter turnout in Georgia was 64%, compared with Massachusetts’s 36%.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Biden complained that the Georgia law is ‘making it harder for you to vote by mail.’ That is technically true, but are the restrictions the end of democracy? The law requires absentee voters to submit a valid voter identification number (such as a driver's license or Social Security number) with their absentee ballot. So do three other states, including Ohio and Minnesota. So how long has democracy been dead in Ohio and Minnesota?…

“Biden also complained that the law limits the number of absentee ballot drop boxes… But Georgia had zero drop boxes prior to the 2020 election. Was democracy dead in Georgia every year before 2020?

“Finally, Biden claimed that the Georgia law makes it easier for partisan actors to remove local election officials. He made it sound like this could be done while votes are being counted. That isn't true at all. In fact, the appointees of the state Legislature would have to establish ‘nonfeasance, malfeasance, or gross negligence’ in two consecutive prior elections before any one election official could be removed from power. And even then, the removal would be good for only nine months. Considering how awful some local election boards have performed during elections in Georgia — just think of all the long lines in Fulton County — this provision will probably make it easier for Georgians to vote.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

“It’s pointless asking [Biden] to be more respectful of Senate Republicans. But you’d think he’d consider Joe Manchin’s and Kyrsten Sinema’s feelings considering he still needs both of their votes if there’s still any chance of passing Build Back Better. ‘You support slavery and segregation’ isn’t a great opener on negotiations…

“The demagoguery here is inversely proportional to the likelihood of the filibuster rules being changed to pass voting rights, and deliberately so. Biden knows that this effort is doomed to fail and he knows that many progressive and African-American voters will be royally pissed off about it when it does. His best play with the bad hand he’s holding is to pound the table angrily, showing them that he’s on their side, and hope that they blame Manchin and Sinema instead of the entire party when deciding whether to turn out in November… It’s Biden’s version of an ‘I feel your pain’ message, essentially.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.