Democrats hoping to protect voting rights ahead of this year’s midterm elections are running out of time and effective options.
Their attempt this week to force debate on the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is a long shot according to just about anyone you ask, but leading Democrats are saying they haven’t used their full arsenal yet.
On Tuesday night’s episode of "The ReidOut," Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., made a bit of news in announcing his party's potential plans for bringing voting rights measures to a vote even if Republicans block.
Booker told Joy that Democrats are considering a piecemeal approach in the likely event their plans are stifled this week:
Tomorrow is not a final vote on anything. Senator Schumer and I were talking today. We have not yet begun to fight. We have a lot more tools in our toolbox. I’ve been encouraging [...] let’s bring up each of the provisions of this bill one at a time and make it even harder for them to vote against some of these common-sense things that people on both sides of the political aisle support. ... We cannot stop fighting. It is a disrespect to our ancestors.
As I wrote yesterday, Democrats’ strategy of holding votes to convey the deep, intractable nature of GOP obstructionism is looking like the last arrow in their quiver. But Booker’s plan to break the bill into small bites to drive the point home could be an effective one.
Polls commissioned by the voting rights group Fair Fight found Americans across several states broadly support requiring some states with histories of voter suppression to get federal clearance before they pass new voting laws. The results of these state-level surveys, published in August, showed significant support for other provisions in Democrats’ voting rights bills, including measures to prevent polling place closures, long lines at polling places, and partisan gerrymandering.
Democrats may not be able to pass voting rights legislation due to conservative obstruction, but they can make that obstruction as agonizing as possible for Republicans.
“Senate Democrats are under no illusion that we face difficult odds,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday. “But I want to be clear: When this chamber confronts a question this important — one so vital to our country, so vital to our ideals, so vital to the future of our democracy — you don’t slide it off the table and say ‘never mind.’”
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Head over to The ReidOut Blog for more.