After Congress passed the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief measure without Republican backing, the GOP wanted to talk about the border – a problem it believed posed President BidenJoe Biden The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden to talk about infrastructure in mid-border, voting controversies Juan Williams: GOP’s Big Voting Rights Lie Schumer goes into re-election mode MORE defense.
The effort worked to some extent. Much of the media conversation has shifted to the wave of migrants arriving at the border and Republicans have traveled there to hold briefings, where they frequently criticized White House policies.
Now Democrats are seizing Georgia’s passing of a voting measure to bring the conversation back to topics they believe will energize their base and, in their view, hope to get the GOP on its feet.
Both parties are looking to change the subject by thinking of the mid-term of 2022, when Democrats defend their meager majorities in the House and Senate.
Measuring the right to vote in Georgia – and others like it in the country that GOP legislatures and governors are pursuing – could make those democratic efforts more difficult.
The measure in Georgia has been described by critics as an effort to suppress the votes of black Americans. It would introduce various new restrictions and voting rules, including a provision to prevent anyone other than election officials from giving water or food to people in line.
But while Democrats fear the new laws will make voting more difficult for their constituents, they believe the issue will keep the liberal base under pressure as an election cycle approaches that is historically difficult for the new president’s party. .
They are also happy to keep Georgia as a ground zero in the battle for voting rights, believing that the groundwork posed by Stacy Abrams has positioned the party to build on the gains it made in 2020, when Biden carried the state and the Democrats swept both Senate races. on the way to winning a majority in the upper house.
Democrats believe that if the GOP’s Georgia Election Reform Bill had passed before the 2020 election, the outcome might have been different.
“The most reliable problem posed for voter turnout, especially among minority voters, is voter suppression,” said Howard Franklin, a Democratic member from Atlanta. “We have a political and campaign apparatus here that will make sure black and white voters, Democrats, Republicans and independents know who made it harder to vote during a pandemic.” We intend to militarize the matter, and the progressive firmament here has shown that it can be creative in finding ways around the obstacles thrown in our way.
Republicans are furious at what they see as Democrats, and the media misinterprets elements of the Georgia bill to establish a narrative that the GOP seeks to suppress the black vote.
Food and water supply, from their point of view, is a good example. The new law sets limits that are written on the books in many blue states, allowing election officials to distribute food and water, but relegating activists to offices outside of polling stations. Language that would have rolled back the vote on Sunday has been removed from the bill.
And they say the voter identification requirement for postal votes, which replaces a signature matching system, will streamline the certification process while causing inconvenience to a negligible number of voters.
“As everyone learns what is really in the bill, a lot of these problems will go away,” says the governor of Georgia. Brian kempBrian Kemp The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden to talk about infrastructure in the middle of the border, controversy vote on Sunday shows: Biden border issues and gun control dominate SNL’s Kamala Harris welcomes Ted Cruz for ‘Unity Seder’ ‘ MORE (R) said Monday on Newsmax. “And I hope people will punish the people who spread these lies and false truths and speak out against them for who they really are.”
Biden and other White House officials have strongly opposed the proposed and implemented voting restrictions across the country. Biden called the removal of voting rights at a press conference “despicable” and on Friday denounced Georgian law as an “atrocity”.
He suggested the Justice Department could review Georgia’s law, and the president earlier this month signed an executive order intended to mobilize federal resources to ensure access to the ballot box. Passing voting rights legislation in Congress is also a top priority, officials said, although the existing proposals are unlikely to garner enough votes in the Senate.
The White House has limited tools at its disposal to directly fight laws like the one in Georgia given that elections are state-run.
Instead, officials focused on hammering home the idea that the right to vote is under attack and raising the issue whenever possible.
Biden and Vice President Harris met Abrams on a recent trip to Georgia to discuss voting rights, and the president’s most emotional comments at his press conference last week came when expressed dissatisfaction with the GOP legislatures attempting to tighten election laws.
Asked Monday what Americans outraged by Georgian law can do in response, White House press secretary Jen psakiJen Psaki The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden to talk about infrastructure in the middle of the border, voting controversies Biden under pressure to spell out Cuba policy Duckworth not ruling out running for president: ‘Maybe if it’s good for the country ” MORE suggested they turn to the ballot box.
“They should elect new leaders,” she said. “They can take steps as any individual can take as a US citizen to make their voices heard and exercise their democratic right.”
Republicans say Democrats have used every cycle voter suppression claims to raise funds and energize their base, whether the claims are true or not.
And Republicans are furious that Democrats are getting a free pass on their own election bill, HR1, that would federalize the electoral process.
“The idea that you would federalize the electoral process without Republican support in an environment in which tens of millions of people already do not trust the process is insane,” said Mark Braden, former chief adviser to the Republican National Committee. . “Trump said a lot of things that were wrong and should be held responsible for it, but now Democrats are showing up to the fire with gasoline instead of water.”
Republicans believe Democratic efforts could backfire. Republican National Senate Committee Chairman Rick Scott (R-Fla.) On Monday released a ballot note showing serious concerns about election integrity and support for voter identification measures.
“Do you really think minorities in America don’t have ID cards? Really? Scott asked. “No, you don’t mean that at all. You are simply playing the race card to stop this common sense reform. Your suggestion that minorities have no identity is in fact racist. “
Democratic Senate Campaign Committee executive director Christie Roberts hit back, accusing Republicans of “trying to suppress voter turnout” because “they lost the election after opposing relief checks and funding vaccines that the public supports overwhelmingly. ”
The DSCC is considering further investments in voter protection and education programs, as well as possible litigation.
“They want to escape responsibility by undermining democracy,” Roberts said. “The DSCC has made historic and successful investments in defending voting rights throughout the 2020 cycle, and over the next two years we will continue our aggressive efforts to oppose the removal of Republican voters in any form. is.”