Stacey Abrams, who gained national attention during her failed 2018 bid for the Georgia governorship, is urging Congress to restore federal oversight of elections in some states.
Had she won the extremely close contest, Abrams would now be the first black female governor in America. She and her fellow Democrats maintain the election was not fairly conducted in part because her Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, was secretary of state – and therefore Georgia's top elections official – at the time.
Abrams was the most prominent witness Tuesday at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on civil rights and elections in the six years since the Supreme Court eviscerated the heart of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In Shelby County v. Holder, the court struck down the part of the law requiring advance federal approval before any changes in voting laws or practices in parts of country with a history of voter discrimination. All of Georgia had been subjected to this so-called preclearance requirement, which the court ruled is now unconstitutionally outdated.
Calling for Congress to come up with a new system for preclearance that could withstand another such challenge, Abrams said that jurisdictions formerly covered by the law "have raced to reinstate or create new hurdles to voter registration, access to the ballot box, and ballot counting."
Abrams said a voter registration group she created in Georgia, which was active in her 2018 race, submitted thousands of forms to Kemp's office and soon discovered "artificial delays" in processing those registrations. The state's requirement that names on registrations exactly match records of other government agencies sidetracked thousands more.
Both practices had a greater impact on black citizens, she said, because they are more likely to register through third-party groups like the one she founded, Fair Fight Action.
And both, she said, would have been stopped in advance under preclearance.
Abrams also charged that Kemp improperly purged names from the voter rolls.
"By denying the real and present danger posed by those who see voters of color as a threat to be neutralized rather than as fellow citizens to be engaged," Abrams said, the six-year-old Supreme Court ruling "has destabilized the whole of our democratic experiment."
After the election, Abrams created Fair Fight Action to combat the tactics used against her. It has also sued the Georgia secretary of state and is asking the federal courts to revive preclearance for any election law changes in her state.
House Democratic leaders have written legislation creating a new set of rules for the Justice Department to use in determining which states must get such preclearance, and it has more than enough sponsors to pass. But the bill would almost certainly be shelved by the Republicans in charge in the Senate.
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Fadem is a board member and national spokesman for National Popular Vote, which wants states to commit their electoral votes to the national winner of the presidential popular vote.
Every American voter, no matter where they live, should be politically relevant in every presidential election. Every state – red, blue or purple; small, medium or large – should play an equally important role in electing the president. And all major presidential candidates should feel compelled to conduct truly national campaigns, seeking out and selling their ideas to every voter in every nook and cranny of the United States.
Those are the simple, powerful ideas behind the National Popular Vote movement to guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
In brief, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact will go into effect when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes necessary to elect a president – 270 out of 538. In December, when electors meet to cast their ballots for president and vice president following a presidential election, the electoral votes of all the compacting states would be awarded to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across the nation.
The national popular vote bill significantly amplifies the voice of each individual voter in choosing the president of the United States.
Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday unveiled her comprehensive plan for securing the election system while making voting easier, the first among the front-running Democratic candidates to detail an agenda for fixing flaws so many voters find in the political process.
The timing of her announcement, her prominence in the presidential field and the wide-ranging ambitions of her ideas -- which she said would cost $20 billion over a decade – make it very likely that addressing the challenges of the broken democracy will become a topic in this week's first Democratic debates.
"Voting should be easy. But instead, many states make it hard for people to vote," Warren wrote in outlining her platform on Medium. "Elections should be as secure as Fort Knox. But instead, they're less secure than your Amazon account."
The core of her plan is to create an array of national requirements for all federal elections, which are now run by about 8,000 local and state jurisdictions. Most ambitiously to the cause of election security, Warren would buy new voting machines, computerized but with an auditable paper trail, for the entire country and have them programmed with a standardized ballot.
In addition, Warren has embraced versions of most of the most prominent ideas of the democracy reform movement, many of them also enshrined in the bill (dubbed HR 1) Democrats passed this spring in the House only to face a deep freeze in the Republican Senate, where the majority says too many of the changes could subject the system to fraud.
Early voting in Florida would be confined to neighborhoods with ample parking, under a package of election law changes that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis says he'll sign soon.
The measure's GOP sponsors in the state legislature say their aim is to avoid some of the long lines and logistical frustration that many early voters complained about. Democratic opponents and civil rights groups say the real aim is to make it more difficult to vote ahead of Election Day on college campuses, where the electorate skews Democratic.