“Opinion: Democrats have a chance to expand voter access. But they’re focusing on the wrong bill”

Ned Foley for WaPo:

The unwieldy menu of mandates known as H.R. 1 is not the electoral reform legislation that Congress should enact. Among other problems, the bill represents an intrusive and unnecessary federal overreach into state management of elections.

Make no mistake: Congress definitely needs to adopt democracy-protecting reforms, especially after the Jan. 6 insurrection. Voting should be made easier, not harder, and the array of voting restrictions being proposed in states across the country is alarming.

The other bill Congress is considering, named for civil rights icon John Lewis, is the better way, because it hews to the federal government’s essential role in protecting the franchise from racial discrimination. Yes, Congress has the constitutional power to make all the rules for congressional elections, but that’s never been done, and now is not the time to start. Instead, Congress should define the floor below which no state can go, to satisfy the basic standard of giving all citizens a sufficient opportunity to vote.

The Senate even should contemplate modifying the filibuster for the purpose of passing a law that protects voting rights — it’s that important — although it would be far preferable to pick up 10 Republicans for landmark voting legislation.

But Democrats should not move forward with the measure, known as S. 1 in the Senate, as is. Republicans have legitimate objections to multiple parts of this gargantuan bill, and those concerns can be addressed without sacrificing the need to protect ballot access.

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