Senators clashed Wednesday over sweeping voting rights legislation that would set federal standards on early and mail-in voting and expand access to the polls.
S1, or the For the People Act, is being examined in the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. The bill, one of the most expansive election reform measures introduced in Congress in decades, was lauded by Democrats and slammed by Republicans as being overreaching.
The bill recently passed House 220-210, with one Democrat joining all voting Republicans to oppose the bill. Two Republicans did not vote.
Senate Rules Chair Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said Wednesday the legislation aims to make “voting easier, getting big money out of politics and strengthening ethics rules.”
“These are not radical proposals. These are ideas that nearly everyone in this country agrees with. And this bill, we can make them a reality,” Klobuchar said.
But Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the top Republican on the committee, said the legislation would be a “federal takeover of the election process” and “that would be an unmitigated disaster for our democracy.”
Among other things, the legislation seeks to increase voter turnout by expanding early voting, lessening identification requirements, allowing same-day registration and requiring states to set up automatic registration for federal elections for eligible voters.
It would also lessen the influence of gerrymandering and require states to establish a bipartisan, independent commission to redraw their congressional districts every ten years.
“Shame on them,” Schumer said. He queried, “I would like to ask my Republican colleagues: why are you so afraid of democracy? Why instead of trying to win voters over that you lost in the last election, are you trying to prevent them from voting?”
“Shame, shame, shame. This is not the usual political argument. This goes to the core of our democracy,” he continued.