In a blockbuster piece for the New Yorker, Jane Mayer obtained a recording of a private call with a policy adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and leaders of top conservative groups, discussing the strong public support for voting rights, including the For the People Act (H.R.1/S.1). Speaking among themselves, they admitted that conservative voters “were actually as supportive as the general public” when given neutral descriptions of the voting legislation. On the call, Kyle McKenzie, a researcher for a Koch-run advocacy group, told attendees “there’s a large, very large, chunk of conservatives who are supportive of these types of efforts.” This includes some provisions of the bill, like the public financing of campaigns, that are so popular among voters that there is “no message they can devise [that] effectively counters the argument that billionaires should be prevented from buying elections.”
Despite the high marks that the freedom to vote gets from the American public, efforts continue at the state level to put up barriers to the ballot box. In fact, the governor and state legislature in Georgia even eroded the power of the secretary of state to oversee elections. The media and some state leaders panned this move as punitive against Secretary of State Brad Raffensbergerfor failing to kowtow to Trump’s demands to undermine the 2020 election.
The Georgia bill, SB 202, signed into law late last week, gives state officials the authority to usurp the powers of county election boards. Opponents in the state see this as a power grab that allows Republicans to seize control of how elections are administered in heavily Democratic areas, disqualifying voters and ballots as they see fit. Josh McLaurin, a Democratic representative in the Georgia House told Vox, “I think the provision for state takeover of local election processes is a natural choice for a party whose election policy is driven by Trump’s ‘big lie.”
Meanwhile, in Leader McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, the General Assembly passed a broad measure to increase access to voting. It passed overwhelmingly 91-3 and now goes to Governor Andy Beshear for his signature.
Some housekeeping: we are trying a slightly different format for the VPP National and State updates. In addition to the recap above, we will share a set of national- and state-specific clips that we find helpful in understanding the latest developments in the democracy protection arena. We hope you like it, and as always, we welcome your feedback.
Here is today’s update:
Associated Press: “Georgia’s new GOP election law draws criticism, lawsuits” (March 29, 2021)
New York Times: “Corporations, Vocal About Racial Justice, Go Quiet on Voting Rights”(March 29, 2021)
USA Today (Opinion): “We need a voting rights champion like Vanita Gupta at Justice, and fast: GOP ex-officials.” By Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman and former U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada and top FBI official Greg Brower (March 29, 2021)
Ms. Magazine: “Law Enforcement Officers Keep Arresting Black Women Elected Officials: The imagery of Georgia Rep. Park Cannon being dragged away this week at the state Capitol follows several arrests in recent years involving elected Black women. Black women on the receiving end say it’s an effort to silence their growing political power.” (March 29, 2021)
NBC: “‘An inflection point: Congress prepares for battle over massive voting rights bill.” (March 28, 2021)
Forbes: “Another Ban On Water For Voters: Sweeping Florida Bill Would Make It A Crime.” (March 29, 2021)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The Jolt: To boycott or not to boycott? Georgia Democrats’ new question after SB 202” (March 29, 2021)
CNN: “New Jersey lawmakers approve bills expanding voting rights as GOP-led states move to restrict access” (March 30, 2021)
The Hill: “North Carolina lawmakers push to repeal Jim Crow-era voter literacy test: They’ve been trying since the 1970s.” (March 30, 2021)
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