It’s too damn depressing. But for the record, here are two stories from the front page of The New York Times:
— With Florida Bill, Republicans Continue Unrelenting Push to Restrict Voting
Republican lawmakers are marching ahead to overhaul voting systems in states where they control the government, Next up: Texas
— G.O.P. Seeks to Empower Poll Watchers, Raising Intimidation Worries
As Republican lawmakers seek to make voting harder and more confusing, they are simultaneously making a push to grant more autonomy to partisan poll watchers. In the past, poll watchers have been used to intimidate voters and harass workers.
One from The Washington Post:
— As [ex-president] seizes on Arizona ballot audit, election officials fear partisan vote counts could be the norm in future elections
The GOP-backed recount of Maricopa County’s ballots has been criticized for abandoning state guidelines and allowing the rules to be set by a private contractor who promoted claims that the election was stolen.
And a full story from The Guardian:
— Why a filibuster showdown in the US Senate is unavoidable
During Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, there are few issues more pressing than the escalating attack on the right to vote in America. Democrats may be running out of time to address it.
As Republicans have pushed more than 360 bills across the country to restrict access to the ballot, the president and Democrats have strongly condemned those efforts, but they’ve been unable to stop them. Even though Democrats control both chambers of Congress in Washington, they can’t pass a sweeping voting rights bill because they don’t have enough votes to get rid of the filibuster, an arcane senate rule that requires 60 votes to advance legislation. A showdown over the filibuster has loomed over the first 100 days of the Biden administration, but during the next 100 days, it’s clear that a showdown over getting rid of the procedure is unavoidable.
Amanda Litman, the executive director of the Run for Something, a group that recruits candidates for state legislative races, told me this week she thinks some Democrats still don’t fully appreciate how dangerous and consequential the GOP’s ongoing efforts are. “This is really an existential crisis. It’s a five-alarm fire. But I’m not sure it’s quite sunk in for members of the United States Senate or the Democratic party writ large,” she told me.
“If the Senate does not kill the filibuster and pass voting rights reforms … Democrats are going to lose control of the House and likely the Senate forever. You don’t put these worms back into a can. You can’t undo this quite easily,” she added.
Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, last week set August as a deadline for Democrats to pass their sweeping voting rights bill, which would require early voting, automatic and same-day registration, among other measures. . . .
But the window for Democrats to have the most impact with their legislation is rapidly closing. The decennial process of redrawing district lines is set to take place later this year, and a critical portion of the Democratic bill would set new limits to prevent state lawmakers, who have the power to draw the maps, from severely manipulating districts for partisan gain. While it’s probably already too late to set up independent redistricting commissions for this year, Democrats could still pass rules to prevent the most severe partisan manipulation.
“You could pass new criteria, including a ban on partisan gerrymandering…require greater transparency in the process,” Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, told me. “There’s a lot that could be done.”
I also asked the Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat who chairs the Senate committee currently considering the bill, what kind of message it would send if Democrats failed to take any action to protect voting rights while they held the reins of government. “Failure is not an option,” she said, adding she wasn’t going to let the filibuster stand in the way.
“This is our very democracy that’s at stake,” she said. “I’m not gonna let some old senate rule get in the way of that.”
The prime example of a purported Democrat who doesn’t recognize the crisis is Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. From Vox’s profile of Manchin:
Some filibuster reformers hope that, as the year goes on, the reality of Republican obstruction will become clear to Manchin and he’ll be driven to change his mind — that Senate rules will in the end be just as negotiable to him as the details of Biden’s stimulus bill. For instance, reformers hoped a GOP filibuster of Democrats’ big voting rights bill, the For the People Act, could spur holdout senators to change the rules to pass it, because it’s so important.
Manchin recoils at the very idea. “How in the world could you, with the tension we have right now, allow a voting bill to restructure the voting of America on a partisan line?” he asked. He says that 20 to 25 percent of the public already doesn’t trust the system and that a party-line overhaul would “guarantee” that number would increase, leading to more “anarchy” like that at the Capitol on January 6. He added: “I just believe with all my heart and soul that’s what would happen, and I’m not going to be part of it.”
What Manchin is saying is that the millions of Republicans who have bought the Big Lie — that the 2020 election was stolen from the leader of their cult — are so angry that interfering with Republican efforts to make voting as hard as possible would make the crazier ones even crazier. For that reason, he’s willing to let Republican politicians in the Senate and across the country do whatever they want to get Republicans elected, by, for instance, insuring that fewer poor people, Black people, Spanish speakers and college students vote, and when they do vote, their votes don’t matter, because Congressional districts have been gerrymandered to, yes, get Republicans elected.
It’s positions like these that get Manchin referred to as a “moderate” Democrat.