VON SPAKOVSKY: Democrats’ Voting ‘Rights’ Agenda Is A Thinly Veiled Attempt To Nationalize Our Elections

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Hans von Spakovsky Hans von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
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American voters should be breathing a sigh of relief after the defeat of Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer’s attempt to gut the legislative filibuster rule and pass a reckless election bill that would have endangered the integrity and security of future elections.

This is the same Chuck Schumer who previously said that the extended debate that the filibuster rule protects is the “hallmark of the Senate” and the “the guard rail of our democracy.”

Schumer was trying to destroy the “guard rails of our democracy” in more ways than one. The bill that fortunately went down in defeat — H.R.5746, the “Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act” — was a combination of two prior bills and probably one of the worst pieces of legislation ever proposed in Congress.

It would have federalized and micromanaged the election process administered by the states, imposing unnecessary, unwise and likely unconsti­tutional mandates on the states and eliminating basic security protocols like voter ID that protect voters and the honesty of our elections.

The demagogic push to pass this bill was based on a total falsehood: that there has been a wave of “voter suppression” that is keeping Americans from registering and voting. Liberals have often made this absurd claim in the past year after states like Florida, Georgia and Texas passed beneficial, sensible improvements to their election laws. But it’s not a new charge. The Left has been saying this for more than a decade, ever since states like Georgia and Indiana first started implementing election reforms like voter ID, which went into effect in both states for the first time in the 2008 presidential election.

Voter suppression? The U.S. Census Bureau report on the 2020 election shows that turnout was 66.8% — just short of the record turnout of 67.7% in the 1992 election. The turnout of all races was higher in 2020 than in the 2016 election, including among black Americans — who are, according to people like Chuck Schumer and President Joe Biden — being kept from voting by dastardly requirements like having to show an ID to authenticate their identity.

Moreover, the Census Bureau shows that voter registration in 2020 reached 72.7%, a higher registration rate than in the 2016, 2012, 2008, 2004 and 2000 presidential elections. Voters obviously are not having any trouble registering or voting, contrary to the lies we keep hearing that the mainstream press seems to have no interest in questioning or correcting.

Yet anyone who opposed this manipulative federal bill or who supports reforms such as voter ID is, according to an inflammatory, disgraceful speech Biden gave recently in Atlanta, a white supremacist in the same camp as segregationist Gov. George Wallace and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. That will come as a big surprise to the overwhelming majority of Americans of all races, including blacks, who support voter ID as a common-sense requirement.

But Biden didn’t compare Muriel Bowser, the black mayor of the District of Columbia, to a white segregationist when she issued a new order requiring anyone going to a restaurant, theater, bar or gym in the city to show not only proof of vaccination, but also a photo ID to prove you are the individual who got vaccinated. Having to show an ID to get into a restaurant allegedly isn’t racist, but having to show an ID to vote is.

This bill, which was supposedly about “voting rights,” would have set up a public funding program for congressional candidates. Jefferson Davis must have had a lot of relatives because many people don’t believe that taxpayers should be forced to fund the campaigns of candidates they would never vote for in a million years — something that has nothing to do with protecting voting rights.

The bill would also have given unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department the ability to veto almost any election law changes made by state legislatures or voters through the referendum process that they don’t like, a shocking violation of federalism and anti-democratic to the core. (The Civil Right Division, incidentally, is headed by Kristen Clarke, who published a letter in the Harvard Crimson when she was a college student in which she claimed that black Americans have “greater mental, physical, and spiritual abilities” than other races.)

Democrats in Congress were trying to limit the ability of states to determine the qual­ifications and eligibility of voters, to ensure the accuracy of voter registration rolls, to secure the fairness, honesty and integrity of elections, and to partic­ipate and speak freely in the political process.

Everyone who believes in preserving our democratic republic should be relieved this legislation has ended up on the ash heap of history.

Hans von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow and Manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation. He is the coauthor of the new book, “Our Broken Elections: How the Left Changed the Way You Vote.”