The heated debate over voting reform in Congress is closer to a conclusion. Senate Democrats are pushing for an overhaul in our nation’s election system but they may frankly not have the votes as Republicans are unified in stopping the legislation.
Senators spent hours Tuesday debating the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. The voting legislation is a top priority for Democrats and civil rights leaders, but it seemed headed for defeat.
Democrats and Republicans are diametrically opposed on the legislation and two holdout senators refuse to support rule changes to overcome a Republican filibuster.
Democrats argue the bill will expand access to voting rights while Republicans argue it undercuts election security, following legislation by several Republican-controlled state legislatures. That includes states like Georgia that have passed voting reform that has been strongly criticized by Democrats.
There are multiple sticking points in the legislation. They include things like:
- Set Election Day as a federal holiday
- Voter registration on the same day
- Expand the amount of Voter ID that’s accepted
- Restore voting rights to convicted felons
Voters like Willie, who only wished to provide his first name, think there needs to be expanded voting access.
“I think that if the voting was a little easier for people instead of having such a long line and more places to vote I’m thinking it should be a little easy,” said Willie.
But there has been a considerable chunk of Republican voters who have called for increased election security and expressed skepticism about the results of the 2020 Presidential Election.
“I think we need probably just more security. We got plenty of voting rights now. I’m satisfied with it. But we need more security,” said voter Shirley Andrews.
News4JAX Political Analyst Rick Mullaney says odds right now are the Democrats won’t have the votes to break the filibuster because Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona aren’t willing to change Senate rules to allow for a simple majority vote.
He adds there could be a compromise however down the road on the electoral college. That’s the counting of electoral votes for president which caused a lot of debate and confusion after the last presidential election.
“There’s bipartisan support for that. That legislation was the basis of many Republicans to look into 2020 to decertify election results. It’s also the same legislation that was the basis for Democrats in 2016 and 2004 to object to certifying the votes. So there’s bipartisan support to change that,” said Mullaney.
Senators are expected to debate for several days but odds are not good for Democrats that they’ll be able to break the filibuster with Manchin and Sinema as holdouts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.