Reported by MICHAEL GINSBERG | CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER | January 17, 2022
With Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona refusing to eliminate the filibuster and pass a pair of election reform bills, Democratic politicians are claiming that Republicans will prevent fair midterm elections in November.
The two bills, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would effectively nationalize elections by preventing states and locales from setting limits on absentee ballots, prohibiting ballot harvesting and changing polling locations without federal approval, among other changes. Democrats claim that these changes are necessary to prevent local Republicans from engaging in voter suppression and throwing out validly cast ballots.
President Joe Biden cast opponents of the bills as the heirs of segregationists, and laws requiring voter ID and banning line-warming as “Jim Crow 2.0.” He also claimed that individuals who support the stricter ID standards “plan to subvert the election.”
“History has never been kind to those who’ve sided with voter suppression over voters’ rights, and it will be even less kind for those who side with election subversion,” the commander-in-chief said. “Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? The side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? The side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?” he asked.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina defended Biden’s remarks, while questioning whether Biden’s critics had the personal experience necessary to understand his comments.
“This is Jim Crow 2.0. That was one of the strongest points of the president’s speech that I agree with. So, this whole notion, when you walk around and no one has ever discriminated against you because of your skin color or you have never had to worry about having your vote counted, you can have those kinds of statements,” he said.
During her Martin Luther King Jr. Day address, Vice President Kamala Harris asserted that opponents of the legislation wish “to interfere with our elections, to get the outcomes they want and to discredit those they do not.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer added that Republicans want to “rig the game and rig the count,” when it comes to elections, so a compromise position such as reforming the Electoral Count Act would be unacceptable to his caucus.
“If you’re going to rig the game and then say, ‘count the rigged game accurately,’ what good is that?” he asked during a Jan. 4 press conference.
Top Democrats have made these claims as polls and analysts suggest that Republicans are likely to take back the House and Senate by wide margins in the November midterms. A poll released Monday by Gallup found that Americans were more likely to support the Republican Party than the Democratic Party towards the end of 2021 than at any point since 1995, a year after the GOP netted 54 House and eight Senate seats.
Republicans need to pick up only five House seats and one Senate seat to win back both chambers, while the president’s party has on average lost 26 seats in the midterm elections conducted since the end of World War II, according to FiveThirtyEight. The only midterm elections in which the president’s party did not lose seats were 1998, as Republicans impeached former President Bill Clinton, and 2002, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Many Democrats assailed Republicans for equally baseless claims about the 2020 elections, while saying that Americans should not question the security and fairness of elections.
After Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley cited “allegations of voter fraud” in his announcement that he would object to the Electoral College certification of Joe Biden’s victory, Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar accused him of “join[ing] a coup attempt.”
Biden accused Hawley and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz of being “part of the big lie” after they objected to the Electoral College certification.
“Goebbels and the great lie, you keep repeating the law, repeating the lie,” Biden said, name-checking Adolf Hitler’s chief propagandist.