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As millions prepare to vote, Congress hung up on way forward for voting rights reforms

Voting reform is still up for debate as the U.S. prepares for the midterm elections this year.
Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 11:58 AM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - As millions of Americans get ready to vote this year, Congress is still debating what that process should look like.

“Disappointed but not defeated,” said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, in response to voting rights legislation remaining stalled in the U.S. Senate.

Two bills would make permanent some of what made the 2020 general election the highest voter turnout election ever. But Senate Republicans are opposed to the bills, and two Democrats voted against nuking the filibuster rule to see the bills across the line. Morial is convinced the fight isn’t over.

“Convenience and accessibility of the polling place, and the ease of voting should be a fundamental in American democracy. We should not be putting barriers in front of it,” said Morial.

Morial said the 2022 midterm election will be negatively impacted if these bills do not pass. He believes Americans will inspire senators to take another opportunity to pass the bills.

Morial argues laws are being passed in Republican states that would restrict voter access: cracking down on voting by mail, enforcing strict ID laws, and more. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) offered a bleak assessment if Congress does not act.

“The result will be a broad understanding across America that the elections are deeply biased and therefore not legitimate,” said Merkley.

But Morial cautioned against questioning the legitimacy of the upcoming election. It is a tactic President Trump and some of his supporters used in the wake of his 2020 defeat.

Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.) did not join Trump in objecting to Arizona’s results, but Ducey said he is opposed to the federal reform legislation.

“I have confidence in Arizona’s elections and I think we will improve them even more,” said Ducey.

Arizona’s 2020 results were unjustifiably scrutinized; an audit found no election fraud. Despite that finding after expanded access to voting in that election, Ducey said he is considering a number of bills moving through his legislature. Some of the legislation could curtail voting access by limiting mail-in ballots and requiring election day in-person voting with a state ID.

“In Arizona, we have a voter ID, we make sure someone’s a citizen, we make sure that they vote once, and that they’re alive on the day that they vote. That’s how we’re going to keep it,” said Ducey.

The first primary elections of 2022 are set for March 1 in Texas.

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