Democrats make federal election standards a top priority

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Democrats plan to act quickly on one of the new Congress’ first bills, citing need for federal electoral standards and other reforms to solidify the foundations of American democracy after tumultuous post-election period and riot murderous on the Capitol.

States have long had disparate and contradictory rules for organizing elections. But the 2020 election, which featured pandemic-related changes to make it easier to vote, and then a flood of lawsuits from former President Donald Trump and his allies, underscored state-to-state differences. : ballots by post due on polling day or simply postmarked by then? Postal voting is allowed for all or only for voters with an excuse? Same day or advance registration only?

Democrats, asserting the constitutional authority to set the time, place and mode of federal elections, want national rules they believe would make voting more consistent, accessible and fair across the country. The bill would make early voting, same-day registration and other long-sought reforms mandatory that Republicans reject as federal overrun.

“We have just literally seen an attack on our own democracy,” said US Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, referring to the Jan. 6 takeover of the Capitol. “I can’t think of a more opportune time to start implementing democratic reform.”

Legislation first introduced two years ago, known as the For the People Act, would also give independent committees the task of drawing congressional districts, force political groups to disclose expensive donors, create demands report for online political ads and secondly. nods at Trump, forces presidents to disclose their tax returns.

The Republican opposition was fierce in the last session. At the time, then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Called it a “law to protect Democratic politicians” and said in an op-ed that Democrats were seeking to “Change the rules of American politics for the benefit of a party.” “

As Democrats control Congress for the first time in a decade, the fate of the measure depends on whether enough Republicans can be persuaded to reconsider a bill they have repeatedly rejected. Otherwise, Democrats might decide it’s time to take an extraordinary and difficult step to eliminate Senate filibustering, a procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 voice to advance legislation.

Supporters say the bill is the most consistent voting law since the 1965 voting rights law. House Democrats vowed two years ago to make the bill a priority, and they reintroduced him this month as HR 1, underscoring his importance to the party.

“People just want to be able to vote without it being hardship,” said Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat from Maryland who is the bill’s main sponsor in the House. “It’s crazy in America to still have to go through an obstacle course to get to the polls.”

Under current plans, the entire House would pass the bill by the first week of February. The Senate Rules Committee would then consider a companion bill presented to the Senate, and an equal vote could allow it to leave the committee and go to the prosecution as early as next month, said Klobuchar, who is expected to become the next. chairman of the committee. .

A quick vote would be remarkable given the Senate is also likely to juggle Trump’s impeachment trial, confirmation of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks and another round of coronavirus relief.

While states have long had different voting procedures, the November 2020 elections highlighted how the …

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