By Hannah Bleau
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) likened basic election integrity measures embraced by several states, such as voter ID, to the era of Jim Crow and accused the GOP of attempting to suppress voters. He made the remarks during Wednesday’s Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing on S 1, or the “For the People Act,” which critics warn will strip power from the states and federalize U.S. elections.
Speaking to his colleagues during the hearing, Schumer blasted Republican state legislatures, such as Georgia’s, for pursuing basic election integrity measures, calling it “infuriating” and accusing Republicans of being “afraid” of democracy and trying to prevent people from voting.
“Some of these voter suppression laws in Georgia and other Republican states smack of Jim Crow rearing its ugly head once again. It is 160 years since the 13, 14, and 15th amendments abolished slavery, and Jim Crow stills seems to be with us,” the New York progressive said.
“The laws, their various cousins in Republican state legislatures across the country, are one of the greatest threats we have to modern democracy in America,” Schumer declared before citing the Washington Post:
According to the Washington Post, these laws could strain every available method of voting for tens of millions of Americans, the most sweeping contradiction of ballot access in the United States since the end of Reconstruction. If one political party believes that when you lose an election the answer isn’t to win more votes but rather to try and prevent the other side from voting, we have an existential threat to democracy on our hands. If we don’t stop these vicious and often racist actions, third-world autocracy … will be on its way. That is why the country so badly needs S 1, a bill that would combat all of these voter suppression efforts. A bill that would make it easier, not harder, to vote by automatically registering American voters when they get a driver’s license. By guaranteeing at least 15 continuous days of early voting. A bill that would limit dark money and corruption in our politics and much more.
Schumer said he expects to hear the “same tired canards from our Republican colleagues, many of which have no basis in fact, most of which defy belief.”
“We’re going to hear that it’s a federal takeover of our elections,” Schumer said, telling his colleagues that the founders “wrote in the constitution that the Congress has the power to pass laws to determine the time, place, and manner of federal elections.”
“We’ve been down this road before,” he said, contending that opponents of voting rights throughout history have always said “leave it to the states.”
“Just leave it to the states to discriminate against African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, younger Americans in college. It is shameful our Republican colleagues are proposing these ideas in 2020,” Schumer said.
“Shame, Shame, shame. This is not a usual political argument. This goes to the core of our democracy. The crowning achievement of the American Civil Rights movement was a federal election law,” he continued.
“It shouldn’t matter if a state wants to do it if it’s so, so wrong. If it’s so against the grain of our democracy. Voting rights are sacrosanct,” Schumer said, promising that S 1 “will be a priority in this Congress.”
A HEP and HEP Action survey released this week showed that a majority of registered voters, including a majority of black and Latino voters, support voter ID laws. The same survey found that a majority of voters oppose operatives and organizers harvesting ballots.