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By: Jessica Anderson
If you listen to the leaders of the Democratic party, our democracy is on life support. President Biden called recent state voter integrity bills “Jim Crow on steroids” and said they were part of “the worst attack on our democracy since the civil war.” Nancy Pelosi warned recently that “the clock is ticking on democracy” due to state election reform bills.
Contrary to the hyperbole and spin from top Democrats, 2021 has been a landmark year for our democratic republic. The systems of checks and balances enacted by the Founders are indeed running smoothly: Ordinary Americans, concerned with the loopholes and security flaws in their states’ election laws, have come together to support state legislation that ensures it is easy to vote and hard to cheat. At the same time, they oppose federal legislation like S. 1 that would strip the states of their constitutional role in making rules for their own elections. On Tuesday, S. 1 failed its first test in the Senate after Senators heard their constituents and blocked the bill. This is what the Founders intended.
In states from Florida to Arizona, over a dozen states have heard their constituents and passed election integrity legislation. While the details of the bills vary, they generally seek to remedy issues identified in the 2020 election cycle, strengthening protections for poll watchers, securing ballot drop boxes, prohibiting private funding for election laws, and more. They were passed by duly elected legislators in each state, signed by governors, and generally reflect popular support from the citizens of each state and the nation at large. That’s the American way, and it frustrates Democrats to no end.
National Democratic leaders have identified these bills and this grassroots reform movement as a serious threat to their political power, and they are mobilizing all their resources to fight it. The progressive Left has spun up a false narrative to smear the state bills as “Jim Crow 2.0” and repeatedly misled the public about the legislation: President Biden and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer were caught by the Washington Post and Politifact, respectively, misrepresenting the contents of the bills to paint them as “voter suppression.”
This misinformation campaign has vilified the state bills and demonized their authors to build urgency for a federal election takeover, the so-called “For the People Act,” or S. 1, which would federalize election procedures and eliminate much of the Constitutional role of individual states to determine their election procedures. The intent of the legislation is not the integrity of our elections: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even admitted that the legislation is needed because Democrats cannot “rely solely on a wish of winning elections.” The leaders of the Left have worked to jam moderates in the Senate to push an unpopular, unconstitutional bill to cement their power.
The initial failure of the For the People Act in the Senate last week demonstrates that the American people don’t buy this narrative. Unlike the established Democratic interests in Washington, everyday Americans have reasonable concerns with the way elections are conducted in their states, and they support legislation to restore voter trust. Recent polling shows that only one quarter of Americans believe that the winners of the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections were both legitimate. According to new Monmouth polling, 69% of Americans think voter fraud is a problem, and 80% support photo I.D. requirements.
That’s why states across the country have seen a historic swell of grassroots action. In Texas, hundreds of grassroots supporters came to testify at a committee hearing, some staying all night. In West Virginia, hundreds of activists gathered at the state capitol in March to bolster Sen. Joe Manchin’s resolve to uphold the filibuster and vote against S.1.
Unfortunately, Democratic leaders aren’t giving up. They are now focusing on their backup plan, H.R. 4. The details are different from their first bill, but the goal is the same: a federal takeover of election procedures. Speaker Pelosi last Wednesday even stated that H.R. 4 will “go even further” than S. 1. We expect H.R. 4 to be another loss for the Left, thanks to the strength of American democracy.
Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer may have forgotten that democracy isn’t synonymous with the agenda of the Democratic party, but Americans have not. True democracy is Americans fighting for what they believe in and working to preserve the constitutional order and fair elections. And Americans will not be deterred.
Jessica Anderson is Executive Director of Heritage Action for America.