Slouching Toward Bethlehem

While semi-official mass media have declared voting rights legislation dead, gigantic local efforts remain underway to press a handful of recalcitrant Democratic Senators to revisit the scope of the filibuster where civil rights and voting rights legislation is concerned, and S1’s demise may well have been prematurely pronounced.

The July 4 recess has turned into a time of citizen action in literally every state, and Senators are hearing from their constituents that, indeed, something close to four-fifths of the American people think voting IS a right that ought to be protected.

That said, the sprawling legislation passed by the House — the For the People Act — has something that almost everybody can either be troubled by or forcefully reject. We might ask, should the Federal government be in the business of mandating instant registration procedures in literally every State? There are many — including folks on the Federal bench — who might quibble.

There are questions on dark money and gerrymandering, as well as registration and early voting requirements, that will draw fire from may sides. Fact is, H1 will look quite different when committees take it up in the Senate in the later summer.

We who care about secure and fair elections would do well to think through which of the provisions in the original act, H1, are absolute desiderata, and which are nice-to-haves. And which are just overreach, as the Right would have it — and as might be the case.

Early voting seems vital. Ditto mail-in ballots. Dark money must be addressed — but is this the place? Gerrymandering is odious, but feels kind of State-specific. How do you enforce this from DC??

Let’s all take a breath, get ready for a vibrant and ongoing fight, and think about what’s crucial — and do-able — to protect the right to vote.

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