Freedom to Vote Act: Are Republicans right to filibuster?

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Fact Box

  • The “Freedom to Vote Act” (S.2747) is a bill proposed by Senate Democrats on September 14, 2021. The act seeks to address “voter registration and voting access, election integrity and security, redistricting, and campaign finance.” 
  • A filibuster is a political procedure where one or more US Senators debate to delay or prevent voting over proposed legislation. Breaking a filibuster to pass legislation requires 60 votes, or a two-thirds majority vote called “cloture.”
  • On October 14, 2021, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Shumer (D-NY) said in a letter he’d be bringing the Act to the floor for a vote as they “cannot allow conservative-controlled states to double down on their regressive and subversive voting bills. The Freedom to Vote Act is the legislation that will right the ship of our democracy and establish common sense national standards to give fair access to our democracy to all Americans.”
  • Senate records show Democrats used the filibuster more than 300 times during President Trump’s term, far exceeding any other US President. 
  • A March 2021 Rasmussen Report survey reports 75% of all US voters support voter ID laws, including 69% of Black and 82% of minority voters. 51% of Democrats view voter ID laws as discriminatory while 67% of unaffiliated voters and 79% of Republicans do not.

Andrew (No)

Senate Minority Leader McConnell has incorrectly labeled the Freedom to Vote Act an attempt to 'micromanage elections across America.' The reality couldn't be farther from the truth. This bill sets very broad standards that would apply nationwide. McConnell's characterization of Democrats attempting to come into each individual district and change how things operate is sensational and overblown. Instead of standing in the way, McConnell and his fellow Republicans should be asking why some states aren't allowing common-sense practices such as automatic registration in the first place.

Voting is a sacred right in America, one that separates us from other authoritarian nations. The unfortunate reality is that many Americans miss out on voting through nefarious efforts and simple inconveniences of modern life. This bill attempts to address many of these concerns by making registration, along with the act of voting, more automatic and convenient. Our national voting rate is laughable for a democracy as famous as ours; it is time we make sensible improvements to ensure ballot access while also maintaining the security and integrity of our elections.

McConnell's promise to filibuster and his refusal to work with democrats even the slightest bit represents everything wrong with our current divisive political situation. Republicans have claimed anti-divisive reasoning for battling several important issues, such as teaching racism and diversity, yet here they are in the spotlight playing divisive political games. McConnell and his fellow Republicans should allow debate, actively engage in the process, and allow a vote to move forward. Voters are sick and tired of partisan nonsense. It's bad for their party and bad for the nation; Republicans shouldn't filibuster this bill.


Curtice (Yes)

The Freedom to Vote Act is, to quote Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) from earlier this year, a partisan 'power grab' by Democrats. Even in its paired-back version, it still creates, in essence, a federal takeover of the election system. 

The bill guts many state voter ID laws that, according to most polling, the majority of Americans, including a majority of Democrats, favor. Most Americans believe it is entirely proper to be able to prove you are who you say you are when casting a ballot. In addition, it further allows for the continued use of ballot harvesting, a means by which paid campaign workers can collect ballots. The bill also federalizes redistricting, creating a set of rules for redrawing congressional districts, which is done every ten years, following the completion of the US Census—a responsibility that has traditionally lied with the states. 

Among many of the provisions, perhaps one of the most egregious is that it creates a partisan Federal Elections Committee (FEC) by abolishing the principle of bipartisan approval of enforcement actions. Instead, the FEC's general counsel would be able to take actions such as initiating an investigation and asserting a violation. That is a lot of power and discretion in the hands of one entity.

Several states have passed voting legislation in an attempt to curb potential voter fraud. The Freedom to Vote Act would overturn many of these state election reforms. This is clearly not how the Founders intended for elections to be conducted. Very often, whatever the federal government touches, it makes worse. The Freedom to Vote Act is a classic example of that edict.

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