Politics

James Clyburn Stokes Doubt About Upcoming Elections If Voting Legislation Not Passed

[Twitter Screenshot Kasie Hunt]

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Majority Whip James Clyburn said Thursday while on CNN that the upcoming midterms will not be legitimate if “voting rights” aren’t passed, echoing a similar sentiment made by President Joe Biden Wednesday.

“Do you agree with what he said in that press conference, are you concerned that without these voting rights bills the election results won’t be legitimate?” CNN host Kasie Hunt asked.

“I’m absolutely concerned about that,” Clyburn, a Democratic Rep. representing South Carolina’s 6th District said. “Let me remind the audience, that in 1965 at the time of the advent of the Voting Rights Act, only 3% of African Americans in Alabama were registered to vote. We come in with the 1965 Voting Rights Act and look what we have now. Nine years ago the Supreme Court took direct aim at that act in Shelby v. Holder and got rid of preclearance.”

Under Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, a formula determined that jurisdictions needed preclearance from the federal government in order to change their election rules depending on whether the jurisdiction had a history of race-based discrimination against voters. (RELATED: NICHOLS: Voting Rights Are Under Historic Assault, Democracy Is At Stake)

The Supreme Court later struck down the formula in a 5-4 decision, ruling the formula was outdated.

Biden refused to outright say Wednesday whether the upcoming election results would be legitimate if his voting bills don’t pass. The Biden administration is pushing for the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would give more federal control over state election laws. When asked whether he believes the upcoming election would be fair without their passage, Biden said it “depends.”

“It all depends on whether or not we’re able to make the case to the American people that some of this is being set up to try and alter the outcome of the election,” Biden said. “And it’s one thing – look, maybe I’m just being too much of an optimist. Remember how we thought not that many people were going to show up to vote in the middle of a pandemic? We had the highest voter turnout in the history of the United States of America.”

He added efforts to ensure the election is free and fair will be “difficult” but he still hopes to pass his legislation and said the election could “easily be illegitimate.”

The push to pass the legislation comes amid unfounded claims that Georgia’s new election laws, which makes voter ID a requirement and expands early voting in many counties among other changes, are “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki later tried to walk back Biden’s comments, claiming the president was “explaining that the results would be illegitimate if states do what the former president [Donald Trump] asked them to do after the 2020 election: toss out ballots and overturn results after the fact.”