MSNBC Columnist Calls on Biden to Defund States That Restrict Voting Rights

As Republican legislatures around the country continue to make strong pushes to restrict voting rights––as they’ve done in Georgia and Texas––MSNBC opinion columnist Dean Obeidallah is calling on President Joe Biden to defund states that do just that.

When Republicans don’t like what a state or local government is doing — from Covid-19-related mask mandates to teaching critical race theory in schools — they have been known to cut off funding, or at least to threaten to do so. It’s time Democrats do the same for voting rights, which are the lifeblood of our republic,” Obeidallah wrote.

Obeidallah recommends that Democrats “condition some parts of the proposed $3.5 trillion spending bill, which is still being drafted, on states’ agreeing to a national standard for federal elections.”

A road map for the types of measures that Democrats could require are laid out in the For the People Act, such as uniform standards for early voting days and automatic voter registration,” he says.

Obeidallah later notes that President Biden can go further, choosing to withhold federal funding to states that restrict voting rights by executive order “unless they enact a federal voting standard.” He points out that former President Donald Trump signed an executive order withholding funding from cities and states that refused to cooperate with the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants. (He points out that the order was upheld and struck down by different federal appeals courts.)

Obeidallah’s column comes as the White House continues to voice its support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and as the House is set to pass the bill along with other legislation.

“Some have sought to delegitimize the [November 2020] election and make it harder to vote, in many cases by targeting the methods of voting that made it possible for many voters to participate,” the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a statement. “These efforts violate the most basic ideals of America.”