As many Senate Democrats desperately look for ways to protect voting rights and voting access, their Republican counterparts are watching the developments with a degree of faux confusion.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested last week, for example, that the voting restrictions imposed in many states last year don't really exist. Yesterday, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas pushed a different line, arguing that if voters don't see a problem with the status quo, then new legislation is obviously unnecessary.
"More than nine-in-ten voters (94%) say that voting in the election this November was either very easy (77%) or somewhat easy (17%), while just 6% say that voting was very or somewhat difficult."
Hours later, the GOP senator again referenced the same survey and added:
"Democrats claim there's a nationwide assault on the right to vote, but 94% of voters said voting was easy in 2020. This is a manufactured crisis designed to achieve political gain."
The problem is not with the data. The Pew Research Center really did find that 94 percent of American voters described voting as easy.
Rather, the problem is with the date: The Pew poll was conducted in November 2020. In the months that followed, Republican policymakers, fueled by Donald Trump's Big Lie, approved 33 laws in 19 states that make it harder for Americans to participate in their own democracy. And as dramatic as these efforts were in 2021, there's ample evidence the GOP's anti-voting crusade will continue in 2022.
If the voting laws and elections procedures that existed in November 2020 were left intact — procedures that made it easier for Americans to cast ballots during a pandemic — Democrats and other democracy advocates wouldn't be quite so desperate to pass legislation such as the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
And therein lies the point: Those voting laws and elections procedures are no longer intact.
To hear Cornyn tell it, there's ample proof that voters are satisfied with the status quo — which would be a persuasive argument if the status quo from 14 months ago were still in place. But it's not. That's the point. That status quo was replaced by new voting restrictions in 19 states.
The Republican senator is proving the wrong point: Cornyn defended an election landscape that no longer exists by pointing to poll results measuring support for laws that members of his party deliberately targeted.