15 September (WNN) — Months after their sweeping election reform bill was blocked by a filibuster, Senate Democrats unveiled amended legislation to counter voter-ban laws in Republican-led states.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Min., and several other Democratic senators on Tuesday introduced the Freedom to Vote Act, which includes measures such as an early voting period of at least 15 days for federal elections and same-day registration in every state.
The bill also limits partisan interference by election officials, combats covert funding by mandating Super PACs to disclose their donors and tightening security measures for ballots and voting systems. Under the new law, Election Day will become a public holiday.
“Freedom to vote is fundamental to all of our liberties,” Klobuchar said in a statement.
The bill is similar to the For the People Act, which passed the House in March but was blocked by Senate Republicans in June with a 50-50 vote, with Democrats needing 10 votes to avoid a filibuster.
Democratic bills were introduced in response to GOP-led states framing laws that opponents described as voter suppression in the wake of President Joe Biden’s victory in November’s general election.
Republicans and supporters of their voting bill argue that the law is about ensuring the integrity of their elections by increasing safeguards.
In a July report, the Brennan Center for Justice said 18 states have enacted 30 laws this year that restrict access to voting, with more than 400 bills containing provisions that restrict access to voting in 49 states.
Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that restricts early voting and adds new identification requirements, which was met with lawsuits from the NAACP and the ACLU.
Democrats on Tuesday framed these Republican bills as an attack against democracy.
“In the face of state-level threats undermining the fundamental right to vote for millions of Americans, we must act now to protect our democracy,” Sen. Angus King, I-Men, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement. . “Our bill will set commonsense minimum standards to ensure that no state infringes on the voting rights of its citizens and faces widespread black money spending.”
On Tuesday, the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute in support of democracy, said the bill represents the best opportunity to reform democracy in years.
“I cannot express how important this piece of legislation is,” the center’s president, Michael Waldman, said in a statement. “Almost half of the states have legislatures passing laws that make it harder for eligible voters to vote. Politicians claim it’s all about ‘electoral integrity’.” Really, it’s about preserving power as America is diversified and pushing the big lie of Trump’s stolen election.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., called the bill “a good proposal” and said he intends to have a Senate vote on it early next week.
“The Senate must act,” he told the Senate floor on Tuesday. “Time is of the essence.”
For the bill to pass the Senate, Democrats would again need 10 Republicans to cross the aisle to prevent a filibuster.