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Voting Rights Legislation Blocked in the Senate

Voting Rights Legislation Blocked in the Senate

Democrats’ hope of passing new voting rights legislation was crushed on Wednesday when Senate Republicans blocked the Freedom to Vote and Voting Rights Advancement Acts by invoking the filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes to pass most measures, according to the Associated Press. The bills would have prohibited partisan gerrymandering, made Election Day a national holiday, protected election officials from partisan interference, and expanded early voting, vote-by-mail, and same-day voter registration.

Without the support of Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Democrats did not meet the 50-vote threshold necessary to allow an exception to the filibuster and enable passage of the legislation by a simple majority.

“I am disappointed — but I am not deterred,” President Joe Biden said. “My Administration will never stop fighting to ensure that the heart and soul of our democracy — the right to vote — is protected at all costs. We will continue to work with allies to advance necessary legislation to protect the right to vote. And to push for Senate procedural changes that will protect the fundamental right to vote.”

Late last year, scholars of democracy from around the country co-signed a “Statement in Support of the Freedom to Vote Act” in which they outlined the implications of lawmakers’ failure to pass voting protections.

“To lose our democracy but preserve the filibuster in its current form – in which a minority can block popular legislation without even having to hold the floor – would be a short-sighted blunder that future historians will forever puzzle over,” the letter said.

Despite the high stakes, Democrats were unable to surmount Republican opposition or their own internal divisions. After a bleak start to 2022, the party must now find a way to eke out some wins – however minor – or else risk major losses in the upcoming midterm elections this fall.

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