Senate Democrats, Republicans clash over sweeping election reform bill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., listens as the Senate Rules Committee holds a hearing on the "For the People Act," which would expand access to voting and other voting reforms, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. The bill has already passed in the House. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell listened as the Senate Rules Committee held a hearing on the “For the People Act,” at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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UPDATED 7:15 PM PT – Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A partisan debate has kicked off in the Senate over the House-passed For the People Act. On Wednesday, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee started examining the sweeping election reform bill, which passed through the House with no Republican support.

Democrats are claiming the bill would increase citizens’ ability to vote in elections by implementing measures such as same day voter registration, automatic voter registration and a nationwide expansion to mail-in voting.

“This bill is essential to protecting every American’s right to vote, getting dark money out of our elections, as well as some very important anti-corruption reforms,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said. “It is about strengthening our democracy by returning it to the hands of its rightful owners, the American people.”

However, Republicans have sounded the alarm about the implications of the bill, saying election rules and laws are meant to be governed on a local level and this legislation would amount to complete federal takeover of the election process.

“S.1 would force a single partisan view of elections on more than 10,000 jurisdictions around the country,” Sen Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) stated. “State and local election administrators would be forced to change how they register voters and which voting systems they can use, how they handle early voting and absentee ballots, and how they maintain their voter lists.”

Republicans also said this is nothing more than a political power grab by Democrats in order to register illegal immigrants and felons in hopes they would expand their base by voting Democrat.

“Under this bill, there’s automatic registration of anybody. If you get a drivers license, if you get a welfare payment, if you get an unemployment payment, if you attend a public university,” Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) stated. “Now everyone knows there are millions of illegal aliens who have drivers licenses or are getting welfare benefits, who attend public universities. This bill is designed to register every one of those illegal aliens.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also sparred over the bill on Wednesday, with McConnell echoing Blunt’s remarks that implementation of Democrats’ proposed measures would be disastrous and rife with fraud.

“This legislation would forcibly rewrite the election laws of all 50 states from here in Washington. Popular policies like voter ID requirements would be banned, unless states neutered them with loopholes,” McConnell said. “Meanwhile, unpopular and absurd practices like ballot harvesting, where paid political operatives can show up carrying stacks of other people’s ballots, would not just be allowed, it would be mandatory.”

The election reform bill faces a steep hill to climb in the Senate, as at least 10 Republicans would need to vote “yes” for it to pass.

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Author: KT1

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