Rachel Phillips, staff
On Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, Democrat senators made a second attempt at passing amended voter legislation laws, the “Freedom to Vote Act” and the “John Lewis Voting Rights Act”. Following the dismissal of their initial bill entitled the “For the People Act,” unsigned by all fifty Republican senators and two interparty members, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Democrats believed the new two-bill proposal could offer a potential compromise. The new legislation -whilst not as comprehensive as the preceding bill- included adjustments to current voting laws and increased nationwide access to both voting and the registration process. Furthermore, the “Freedom to Vote Act” promised to reverse restrictive policies that had been enacted in 19 states in the past year. “The John Lewis Voting Act” would strengthen federal policies regarding election cases. This included requiring all states with previous histories of discriminatory voting practices to seek clearance from the federal government before implementing any state-wide voting law. However, despite the bill’s passage in the House, Wednesday’s vote resulted in the same stalemate as the initial bill, vetoed by the same people in the Senate. Both Democrats Sinema and Manchin voted against the new proposals, as did all fifty Republican senators. The verdict was ultimately disappointing to both Democrat leaders and voters, as well as the President himself, who has remained adamant about the necessity of voter reform since the bill’s inception. But despite the loss, Democratic majority leader and Senator of New York, Chuck Schumer, remains hopeful for the future of voter security and accessibility. In an interview conducted a day after the vote, Schumer expressed pride in his party and belief that such battles cannot be won in a single clash, particularly if more people do not see the necessity of the fight. Schumer stated, “on civil rights, it is not linear. You’ve got to keep fighting. And they see that the Democrats really fought for something we believed in, even if we couldn’t win. It’s the fundamental backbone of this country — voting rights. But it’s also the core of our party.” Moving forward, it is likely Democratic leaders may segment the bills, so as to pass legislation incrementally. As of right now, however, the Democrats will need to regroup and reassess how and if the stalemate can be broken.