Voting rights acts theater
The Democrats continue with their election reform of the wrong kind. They teed up what they called voting rights acts in Congress. At last report those acts are going nowhere fast. So now Joe Biden plans to make an angry speech about it in Georgia. Even in this context, dissension is growing in the ranks. But might political violence on the left break out? Stay tuned.
The two voting rights acts
The two so-called voting rights acts at issue are:
About HR 1: it covers far more
The two bills seem to have significant differences. HR 1 clearly has a wider sweep:
This bill addresses voter access, election integrity and security, campaign finance, and ethics for the three branches of government.
Specifically, the bill expands voter registration (e.g., automatic and same-day registration) and voting access (e.g., vote-by-mail and early voting). It also limits removing voters from voter rolls.
The bill requires states to establish independent redistricting commissions to carry out congressional redistricting.
Additionally, the bill sets forth provisions related to election security, including sharing intelligence information with state election officials, supporting states in securing their election systems, developing a national strategy to protect U.S. democratic institutions, establishing in the legislative branch the National Commission to Protect United States Democratic Institutions, and other provisions to improve the cybersecurity of election systems.
Further, the bill addresses campaign finance, including by expanding the prohibition on campaign spending by foreign nationals, requiring additional disclosure of campaign-related fundraising and spending, requiring additional disclaimers regarding certain political advertising, and establishing an alternative campaign funding system for certain federal offices.
The bill addresses ethics in all three branches of government, including by requiring a code of conduct for Supreme Court Justices, prohibiting Members of the House from serving on the board of a for-profit entity, and establishing additional conflict-of-interest and ethics provisions for federal employees and the White House.
The bill requires the President, the Vice President, and certain candidates for those offices to disclose 10 years of tax returns.
What this means
Clearly HR 1 addresses every caterwauling complaint by the Democratic Party over the past five or more years. Many States have pulled back on the free-for-all for mail-in voting in 2020. So this bill seeks to make mail-in balloting a universal rule. Note also: automatic and same-day registration for voting.
Republicans control most State legislatures had have drawn new House districts for this Midterms. (In Texas the Census Bureau was so late that Texas fell back on its own commission. The disaster, for the Democrats, is that every member of it is a Republican member ex officio.) So this bill requires all States to have redistricting commissions. More than that, according to Dick Morris, every new map must pass White House muster.
In addition the bill explicitly federalizes the running of elections. It does everything but insist that Officers of Election be federal officers. (And maybe that’s next!) And of course the bill provides for public financing of campaigns. It seems to be an option now. It would be mandatory later.
And last, it requires ten years of federal income tax returns from all candidates. This goes to the perennial position of all Democrats: profits are evil. President James Earl Carter, Jr. famously disclosed his tax returns showing that his famous peanut farm was a perennial money-loser. Democrats love to brag that they are money losers. (Although that’s not always true.)
HR 4 like a rehash of the Voting Rights Act of the Sixties
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is not a “more measured” bill. It would complement, not replace, the For the People Act. This bill repeats the insistence of pre-clearing changes in election law for select States and units (counties, parishes, independent cities).
This bill establishes new criteria for determining which states and political subdivisions must obtain preclearance before changes to voting practices may take effect. Preclearance is the process of receiving preapproval from the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before making legal changes that would affect voting rights.
Obviously this bill strikes at those States that have tried to make cheating more difficult.
The Voting Rights Act new criteria
A state and all of its political subdivisions shall be subject to preclearance of voting practice changes for a 10-year period if
- 15 or more voting rights violations occurred in the state during the previous 25 years;
- 10 or more violations occurred during the previous 25 years, at least 1 of which was committed by the state itself; or
- 3 or more violations occurred during the previous 25 years and the state administers the elections.
A political subdivision as a separate unit shall also be subject to preclearance for a 10-year period if three or more voting rights violations occurred there during the previous 25 years.
States and political subdivisions that meet certain thresholds regarding minority groups must preclear covered practices before implementation, such as changes to methods of election and redistricting.
Further, states and political subdivisions must notify the public of changes to voting practices.
Next, the bill authorizes DOJ to require states or political subdivisions to provide certain documents or answers to questions for enforcing voting rights.
The bill also outlines factors courts must consider when hearing challenges to voting practices, such as the extent of any history of official voting discrimination in the state or political subdivision.
What this all means
This is a desperate attempt to roll back certain new provisions of State law in States that Trump carried, and at least one State that Biden “carried”: Georgia.
First, what constitutes a violation? Who decides that?
Second, how far back does this “history of official voting discrimination” go?
Most likely, a “violation” means “the Democrat lost.”
Voting Rights Acts would have been a catastrophe
Both bills have passed the House. But they are stalled in the Senate. The reason for the stall is that the Democrats, even with Vice-President Harris available to break ties, cannot achieve cloture. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrstin Sinema (D-Ariz.) definitely refuse.
Morris reported last week that Manchin and Sinema had been “negotiating” a “refinement to the filibuster” to let these two measures come to the floor for votes. Well, evidently Morris misunderstood. Today Erick-Woods Erickson reports that, over the weekend, both Senators said NO.
Over the weekend, Senators Manchin and Sinema made it very clear they will not gut the filibuster. Multiple press reports note Sen. Sinema is even more adamant about the filibuster and is refusing any sort of reform. Sen. Manchin seemed amendable to a compromise that would not gut the filibuster, but make it easier to get legislation to the floor in order for it to be filibustered. That would allow the Democrats more grandstanding room. But that’s out the door too.
In other words, negotiations have just broken down beyond repair.
What happens next
So now, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will campaign in Georgia tomorrow (11 January) for Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.). American Conservative reports Biden “plans an angry speech” to support his idea of voting rights. Said a White House spox:
We are doubling it down, kicking that into another gear. We are going right to ground zero for voter suppression, voter under version, and obstruction.
“Voter under version”? What exactly does that mean? DuckDuckGo can’t find the phrase.
According to Erickson, other “progressive” activists don’t want Biden or Harris to campaign in Georgia. They want those two officers to carry out “the fight” in the Senate. How, no one can say.
Erickson expressed open worry about violence.
The last time activists of a party decided democracy was under attack, the game was rigged, and a coup was afoot, they stormed the United States Capitol to stop Electoral College votes from being counted they thought were tainted. They thought they were on the side of democracy and the republic.
Now, Democrats are in the same position and have the media on their side. Stand by for riots.
No false-flag pseudo-op this time, but…
Erickson forgot one thing, if indeed he realizes it, which he likely does not. The FBI laid on a false-flag pseudo-operation at the Capitol. Fewer than 200 dupes followed the lead of two loudmouths and a third man with bolt cutters. If Erickson wants to talk about a precedent for rioting, let him talk about the riots that did break out, not only on Inauguration Day 2017, but also on the night after the Election of 2016.