Senator King weighs in on voting rights legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WABI) - U.S. Senator Angus King (I) spoke in Washington and has released a statement on voting rights legislation.
A portion of his speech from Washington is linked below, as well as his entire statement.
“The longevity of our national experiment in self-government is no accident – it is the product of generations of Americans who dedicated themselves to an idea bigger than themselves,” said Senator King. “These leaders and citizens alike understood that the long-term benefit of a stable, functioning democracy far outweighed any short-term political interests. Elections are, and always have been, the bedrock of that democracy; as Thomas Paine said at our nation’s birth, the right to vote is the primary right by which other rights are protected. We should be taking every step imaginable to protect and expand the right to vote, making it easier for every single American to have their voice heard and express their support for or against candidates and policies. Instead, 50 of my Senate colleagues prefer to keep Congress on the sidelines while partisan legislatures in states across the country enact laws designed to erect barriers between voters and the ballot box.
“The two bills that failed to reach the 60-vote threshold tonight shouldn’t be controversial – in fact, for the majority of Americans, they’re plain commonsense! The Freedom to Vote Act includes widely popular provisions such as simple and consistent voter registration standards, no-excuse absentee voting, expanded early voting opportunities, and designating Election Day as a federal holiday,” King continued. “The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is even less controversial – when the Voting Rights Act was last reauthorized in 2006, the legislation was so popular that it passed by a unanimous vote of 98-0. These bills are not an effort to ‘federalize elections’ or anything close; they are simply efforts to create minimum standards so no state can enact laws that significantly impede American citizens from engaging in our democracy – just as the federal government creates minimum standards to protect our health, safety, environment, and more. Maine’s electoral system already includes many of these provisions, with practically no fraud – so why are other states afraid to follow our lead?
“Polling shows that the voting rights protections contained in these bills have strong bipartisan support across the country – everywhere, it seems, except the halls of Congress,” King concluded. “So, we are left with a decision: either allow a Senate minority to block popular voting rights protections, or adjust a Senate rule. For me, the choice is clear. I’ve long opposed changes to the filibuster – but there is nothing more important than ensuring all Americans can access their Constitutional right to vote.”
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