Count-down to Voting Rights Starts Today

Here Lies American Democracy

I do not pretend to understand all the inside baseball machinations of the Senate and what sort of dank, arcane rituals and parliamentary trickery that must occur before they can actually vote on anything, but by all accounts today is the day that the Senate does (or more likely does not) do something about voting rights.

Take it away, Tiger Beat on the Potomac email thingie, explain this to us:

A Senate Dem aide reminds us of this key bit of parliamentary procedure that will make this latest push on the long-stalled issue different: “Because Senate Democrats are using a legislative strategy that involves a ‘message,’ Dems are able to get around a Republican filibuster at the front end. … So this is the first time that the Senate will actually be debating voting rights.”

At 5 p.m., Senate Democrats are scheduled to meet for one of their final caucus meetings to pressure/shame JOE MANCHIN (W.Va.) and KYRSTEN SINEMA (Ariz.) on modifying the filibuster in front of all their colleagues.

The first roll call votes on the voting rights package are expected Wednesday. The rest is preordained:

  • Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER tries to cut off debate but fails because of a GOP filibuster.
  • Schumer tries to change the rules governing the filibuster on this issue but fails because Manchin and Sinema (at least) side with all 50 Republicans against it.
  • Dems pause their lobbying of Manchin on voting rights and return to lobbying him on Build Back Better.

Our pals over at Electoral-Vote tell us what is actually in the election reform bill (which is something Our Failed Political Press ™ seems to not think is important, go figure):

  • A ban on partisan gerrymanders
  • Limits on states’ ability to remove voting officials
  • Limits on what poll watchers can and cannot do
  • Voting systems must leave a paper trail
  • Mandatory online and same-day voter registration
  • Automatic registration of people upon interactions with state governments (e.g., the DMV)
  • Minimum of 15 days of early voting
  • Universal absentee balloting
  • Widely available drop boxes
  • Ballots postmarked by Election Day, and received within 7 days, would be valid
  • Debit cards, utility bills, bank statements, and sworn/witnessed statements would count as voter ID
  • Felons regain voting rights upon release from prison
  • No prohibitions on giving food/water to people waiting to vote
  • Greater (though somewhat unspecific) rights to sue for voter discrimination
  • Greater disclosure of “dark money” sources
  • Special protections for Native American voters
  • Election Day made into a federal holiday in presidential and midterm years
  • Fixing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, per Chief Justice John Roberts’ instructions, to once again require that states and localities with a history of discrimination get pre-clearance for changes to voting rules

This may seem to be everything plus the kitchen sink, but there are some items from the Democrats’ wishlist that didn’t make the cut, since Manchin said they were non-starters:

  • Mandatory use of redistricting commissions
  • Ethics rules for Supreme Court justices
  • Requirement that presidential and vice-presidential candidates release their tax returns
  • Universal vote-by-mail (every voter gets a ballot, even if they didn’t ask for it)

The bill also does not include any changes to the Electoral Count Act, not because of Manchin, but because the Democrats hope and expect to be able to work on that separately.

Maybe we’ll have some better idea of what is going on later today, but I doubt it. This is the best gubmint that money can buy and the worlds best debate club in action, so I expect we will be totally eff’ed in the dark, as usual.

Related news: faith in public institutions has crashed

Trust in government is collapsing, especially in democracies, according to a new global survey.

Why it matters: People also don’t think media or business leaders are telling them the truth, and this suspicion of multiple societal institutions is pushing people into smaller, more insular circles of trust.

Gee, I wonder why?

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