Wednesday June 23, 2021
Senate blocks electoral reform
Democrats suffer severe setback
After Donald Trump’s defeat in the presidential election, several US states want to change the electoral law. As a result, fewer people could cast their votes there in the future. Democratic plans to prevent this through electoral reform are now being severely dampened.
President Joe Biden’s Democrats have suffered a severe setback from Republican opposition with a legislative proposal for far-reaching electoral reform. The Republicans in the US Senate blocked Tuesday evening (local time) through a procedural rule of the parliamentary chamber that the project could be voted on at all.
That would have required 60 of the 100 votes. All 50 Democrats were in favor and all 50 Republicans were against. The Democrats wanted to use the law to counter plans to restrict voting rights in several Republican-dominated states. Shortly before, the White House had once again expressly backed the project. “Democracy is in danger here, in America,” said a statement on Tuesday. “The right to vote – a sacred right in this country – is being attacked with an intensity and aggressiveness that we have not seen for a long time.” At the beginning of the month, Biden himself spoke of a “truly unprecedented attack on our democracy”.
Changes as a result of Trump being voted out of office
The majority leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, announced after the vote that his party would pursue the project. “We won’t let it die.” The Democrats accuse Republicans of using unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the presidential election last November as an excuse to restrict the right to vote. Republican Donald Trump, who lost the election to Biden, claims to this day that he was fraudulently deprived of his victory. Trump’s camp has failed with dozens of lawsuits against the results and to date has presented no evidence of fraud.
Several states, including Florida, Texas and Georgia, are planning reforms to the franchise. They particularly concern the option of postal voting. Trump had presented this form of voting as particularly prone to fraud. There is no evidence for this. The planned restrictions, for example through an identification requirement for postal voters, would make voting more difficult, especially for non-whites and low-income people, as they more often do not have photo identification.
Biden’s Democrats control 50 seats in the Senate, or exactly half. If there is a stalemate, Vice President Kamala Harris, who is ex officio President of the Senate, can help the Democrats win. The so-called filibuster procedure enables a minority in the Senate to block many bills proposed by the majority. This rule, which has been in effect for more than 100 years in principle, states that in most bills, 60 of the 100 senators must approve an end to the debate in order for the actual vote to take place.