The fight for voting rights hit another wall on Wednesday when Senate Republicans unanimously voted down Sen. Joe Manchin’s voting rights bill. The bill, a compromise-based version, was the most recent attempt by Democrats to pass voting rights protection. Combine the failure to pass the legislation with the efforts by states across the country to suppress the vote, and the future of voting rights in America becomes almost nonexistent.
Despite arguments to the contrary, Republicans are certainly aware of the impact of their restrictive voter laws. After Biden won the election, numerous Republican-controlled states began banging the drum for ‘election integrity’ and calling for more restrictions on mail-in-ballots. In the case of Arizona, the state legislature passed at least 22 bills intended to restrict voting rights, including restrictions on mail-in-ballots. In 2020, 70 percent of all votes were cast by mail, including mine.
States like Texas are also adding to this cascade of restrictions, even with an already abysmal turnout rate. Legislators proposed laws such as S.B. 7, which would prevent county officials from offering mail-in-ballot applications and would punish them for promoting mail-in-ballots along with other restrictive measures. In addition, legislators in Texas have also endorsed laws to restrict voting times.
Republicans in Texas and across the country have long played into the false narrative of voter fraud, and it is no surprise that they are trying to restrict the vote now. And their motivation is completely partisan. Republicans created the vast majority of the bills proposed or enacted.
The ultimate goal here is to keep Republicans in power, as the high voter turnout of 2020 destroyed their chances at keeping Trump in power. Something they thought was impossible. Therefore, Republicans must restrict and limit voter turnout as much as possible to avoid a repeat. Studies show that states with more barriers to voting are more likely to lower voter turnout.
Without a strong voting rights bill to prevent that, Republicans will do what they do best: break the game and start again. While a voting rights amendment is nowhere close to being passed, it is downright reprehensible that a simple whittled-down bill to protect voting rights can’t pass even with a majority of the Senate behind it. So long as the filibuster remains and so long as Republicans are permitted to keep it up with this charade of ‘security,’ American democracy will continue to degrade beyond all repair.