Republicans are comparing H.R. 1 to 'the devil himself' as their effort to vilify voting rights legislation intensifies.
As a voting rights bills makes its way to the Senate for a vote, GOP senators are trying to build opposition with lies and comments that grow more hyperbolic by the day.
H.R. 1 — which passed the House on March 3 — expands access to the ballot box. It requires states to put in place automatic voter registration, gives everyone who wants to vote by mail access to an absentee ballot, and protects voters from being wrongly purged from the voter rolls.
If signed into law, H.R. 1 would thwart the hundreds of voter suppression bills Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country are seeking to implement that, among other things, restrict who can vote by mail, shorten the time voters have to cast ballots, and even make it a crime to hand out food and drinks to voters waiting in long lines. The Republican effort would disproportionately affect voters of color.
As they gear up to block H.R. 1 from passage, Republican senators are lying about what the bill does and making over-the-top comments.
"Everything about this bill is rotten to the core," Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said Wednesday in an interview with Fox News. "This is a bill as if written in hell by the devil himself."
It's unclear why Lee thinks expanding access to voting by mail is bad, given that his state votes almost entirely by mail, with 90% of the state's votes being cast by mail, Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox told NPR ahead of the 2020 election.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Wednesday night that H.R. 1 is, "the universal voter fraud law" — lying about how there were "serious allegations" of voter fraud in the 2020 election when there were not.
In another instance of hyperbolic rhetoric, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) said H.R. 1 would "deform our elections."
While Republicans decry H.R. 1 as Satan's spawn, polls show the bill is widely popular among the electorate.
Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has already signed a restrictive voter suppression bill into law that shortens the early voting period in the state, slashes an hour from the time polls are open for casting ballots, purges voters from the rolls if they miss even a single general election, and requires absentee ballots to be received by Election Day. She did that even though Iowa's 2020 election went smoothly, with record turnout and no irregularities.
The Georgia state House passed a bill that requires voters to submit a copy of their ID when voting by mail, makes it a crime to hand out food and drink to voters waiting in line to vote, and cuts back early voting on Sundays in what voting rights advocates say is a direct attempt to suppress Black voters, who organize events to vote after church services.
This effort came after President Joe Biden became the first Democrat since 1992 to win Georgia, and after Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeated Georgia's two GOP senators.
Arizona's GOP-controlled state Legislature is also working to pass a spate of bills that would shorten the early voting period, and require those voting by mail to postmark their ballots a full week before Election Day. This, too, came after Biden won the state, and its two Senate seats are now in Democratic hands.
It's unclear when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will put H.R. 1 up for a vote in the Senate, but Schumer supports the legislation.
"There is a concerted effort by Republicans to roll back voting rights in state legislatures," Schumer tweeted on March 2, the day before the bill passed the House. "We won't stand by as these rights are diluted or stripped away. This Senate is working to pass the #ForThePeople Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore democracy."
However, given the GOP rhetoric around the bill, it's unlikely it could pass with the current filibuster rule in place.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.