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

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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.” read more

Jon Ossoff Takes a Stand: Will Introduce “Right to Vote Act” in the Senate

Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) announced that he will introduce the “Right to Vote Act” in the Senate.

The legislation would create a statutory right to vote in elections, would prevent states from limiting the right to vote without justification, and ensure that every vote is counted. It has received the endorsement of Fair Fight Action, and the ACLU Voting Project.

Ossoff said he encourages activists “to keep pushing because the right to vote is fundamental.”

“People bled and died to secure it,” he added. “There does not exist in U.S. law an affirmative guarantee of the right to vote, and so the Right to Vote Act, which I’m introducing this week, establishes that affirmative guarantee of voting rights. It holds that any American citizen can challenge a state law which diminishes or restricts the right to vote, which makes it harder to vote, and require any state in our union to justify those restrictions with specific purpose and justification and to demonstrate that it is the least restrictive means to achieving their ends.”

Ossoff noted that the Right to Vote Act “may move as part of a broader measure,” supporting the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

Above all, the legislation would “establish that every American has the right to vote and “any state that would impair, restrict or reduce it must be held to the highest standard and that American citizens can take them to court.”

Ossoff said the Biden administration is committed to securing and protecting voting rights and encouraged activists and grassroots organizers “to continue to push Congress and to continue to push all of us here to advance federal legislation that will secure the franchise in the face of state legislatures across the country that are restricting access to the ballot for purely partisan ends on the basis of [ex-President] Donald Trump’s lies about the last election.”

You can watch his interview in the video below.

Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff says he is introducing an act that would establish that every American has the right to vote and “any state that would impair, restrict or reduce it must be held to the highest standard and that American citizens can take them to court.” pic.twitter.com/FOb0Xy8L79 read more

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick Says Democrats Will Be Arrested and GOP Will Work on Passing Voting Restrictions

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R) told Fox News that the Democrats who fled the state to block a bill that would have tightened voter restrictions in the GOP-controlled state.

Patrick expressed confidence that the matter would be resolved soon.

“They can’t hold out forever. They have families back home. They have jobs back home. And pretty soon, their wives or husbands will say, ‘Hey, it’s time to get back. Back home.’ And when they get home for a special session, they’ll be arrested and brought to the Capitol and we will pass these bills.”

On Tuesday, the Texas House authorized arrest warrants for the Democrats who left the state.

“Members, the sergeant-at-arms and the officers appointed by him are directed to send for all absentees whose attendance is not excused for the purpose of securing and maintaining their attendance — under warrant of arrest, if necessary,” House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), said from the floor. read more

Texas House Authorizes Arrest Warrants for Democrats Who Left State to Block Voter Restrictions

The Texas House has authorized arrest warrants for the Democrats who left the state to block a bill that would have tightened voter restrictions in the GOP-controlled state.

“Members, the sergeant-at-arms and the officers appointed by him are directed to send for all absentees whose attendance is not excused for the purpose of securing and maintaining their attendance — under warrant of arrest, if necessary,” House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), said from the floor. read more

Texas House Democrat Trey Martinez Fischer Defends His Party for Fleeing State to Block Voter Restrictions

Speaking to CNN, Texas House Democrat Trey Martinez Fischer said Democrats need to have “courage,” “conviction,” and “sometimes a little bit of defiance” if they want to stand up in the fight against Republican attempts to impose restrictions on the right to vote.

Martinez Fischer’s remarks came after Texas Democrats fled the state to block Republicans from passing a new voting bill while also applying pressure on Congress to pass the For the People Act at the federal level.

“We have a job to do. We are elected by our constituents to be their voice,” he said. “They have no voice and voting rights is fundamental, so I think we have to have the courage, we have to have conviction, and sometimes a little bit of defiance.”

“The eyes of the nation are on Texas,” he continued, “and we hope to rally the country and we hope that the Senate will hear us and act. This is where we are: This is a now or never moment and we’re not going to stay home, we’re not just going to take our medicine and lose in defeat. We want to make sure we are doing everything we can in this final push to bring a resolution to a very controversial issue in this country.”

Martinez Fischer also addressed Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s threat to arrest Democrats upon their return. Abbott has also promised to “continue to call a special session after special session after special session all the way up until election next year” in order to pass voter restrictions.

“This is the risk we take for standing up for democracy,” Martinez Fischer said. “We’re talking about voting rights here. There were people who were beaten by clubs, attacked by dogs, and murdered to protect this sacred right so this threat and this finger-pointing by the governor is not going to intimidate all of us. We’re strong and united and we want to bring voting rights reform to this country.”

"We are elected by the constituents to be their voice … We have to have the courage, we have to have conviction, and sometimes a little bit of defiance," Texas House Democrat Trey Martinez Fischer says on leaving the state to block Republicans from passing voting restrictions. pic.twitter.com/RfBsmvPoQC read more

Department of Justice Suing Georgia Over Voting Restrictions

The Department of Justice is filing a lawsuit challenging new voting restrictions in Georgia.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the DOJ‘s action during a press conference this morning.

“This lawsuit is the first of many steps we are taking to ensure that all eligible voters can cast a vote, that all lawful votes are counted, and that every voter has access to accurate information,” he said. 

“The rights of all eligible citizens to vote are the central pillars of our democracy,” Garland said. “They are the rights from which all other rights ultimately flow.”

He added: “Where we believe that the civil rights of Americans have been violated, we will not hesitate to act.” read more

Right-Wing Threats to Poll Workers Endanger Future Elections

Volunteering to serve as an election official is one of the most important responsibilities a person can accept.

There are those poll workers who sign in voters, record they have voted, and assist those experiencing problems casting their ballots.

There are also poll watchers, those who quietly observe voters’ interactions with poll workers and ensure voters and workers alike are refraining from illegal or otherwise unpermitted behavior, like snapping pictures of their ballots or attempting to influence other voters.

Then there are professionals at county election boards and states‘ secretaries of state offices working behind the scenes to keep track of registered voters and their party affiliations, verify absentee ballots go out and return on time, provide ample poll workers, address technology issues, comply with election laws,  and, of course, count each ballot.

They are important jobs that require commitment to the democratic process.

All receive training in election laws and procedures that includes a promise not to “electioneer;” i.e., act in a way that can be construed as intimidating, influencing voters toward certain candidates, or otherwise interfering with voters’ opportunity to cast their ballots.

These jobs are not known for being particularly exciting nor dangerous.

However, this past November, during the most tense presidential election in modern American history, threats to election workers spiked as right-wing Donald Trump supporters targeted their animosity toward those they baselessly felt were helping to “steal votes” from Trump.

Acting on lies Trump and right-wing hate media fed them about smuggled ballots and votes being overturned and/or discarded, election officials found themselves confronting death threats, being followed,  and receiving harassing phone messages.

recent Brennan Center for Justice and Bipartisan Policy Center survey of over 200 local election officials reveals about a third expressed feeling either very or somewhat concerned about “being harassed on the job” or “feeling unsafe.”

Nearly 4-in-10 reported concern over “facing pressure to certify election results.”

Al Schmidt, a republican member of Philadelphia’s city board of elections,

explains read more

Representative Sharice Davids Slams Republican Senators for Blocking Voting Rights Bill

Speaking on CNN, Representative Sharice Davids (D-Kans.) slammed Republican senators who blocked the For the People Act, a comprehensive voting and election reform bill, from reaching the floor for debate.

“I am so disappointed in my Republican colleagues in the Senate for continuing to block the will of the people,” she said. “There are so many people in Kansas who have reached out to me to tell me that they want to see the For the People Act passed.”

“It is a huge failing on their part to bring such an important issue up for debate, particularly when they are across the country, the Republican leaders across the country are trying to inhibit people from voting, trying to suppress the vote,” she continued. “It’s true in Kansas. We’re still trying to dig ourselves out of the voter suppression issues that [former Kansas Secretary of State] Kris Kobach got us into.”

When asked whether she also blames Democrats, namely Senator Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) whose objections held up the bill amid arguments about abolishing the filibuster,  or the Biden administration, Davids was firm.

“Look, the Democratic Party, and the folks in Kansas who I’ve been working with, have been pushing for this since before I even got elected,” said Davids, who took office in 2019. “The For the People Act was something I was a strong proponent of to be at the top of the priority list when I got to Congress… what we’re seeing is really just obstruction from the Republicans in D.C. and then, you know, in states like Kansas where we have a Republican supermajority that’s really trying to suppress the vote, it’s clear to me that the Republican electeds right now are really just trying to stop people from voting.”

You can watch her interview below.

"I am so disappointed in my Republican colleagues in the Senate," Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids says after Senate GOP blocks the For the People Act. "There are so many people in Kansas who have reached out to me to tell me that they want to see the for the people act passed." pic.twitter.com/ojqmTYX53D read more