Sen. Grassley, Burgess Owens scold Senate Dems for using ‘Jim Crow’ to misrepresent voter integrity efforts

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on voting rights Tuesday, with failed Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams being billed as the prime witness, but Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, had something to say about that.

Owens scolded Democrats on the panel for the use of the term “Jim Crow” in the campaign to misrepresent GOP efforts to shore up voter integrity.

“All America expects, very simply, expects is fairness, security, to walk away from the poll booth knowing that my vote counted — if we didn’t win, we work harder next time to make sure our message resonates,” the lawmaker testified.

“But to call this Jim Crow 2021 is an insult, my friends,” Owens continued. “For those who never lived Jim Crow, we are not in Jim Crow. And for black Americans to go out every single day, and vote the way we feel we should, is a right we should have and not be demeaned by something 60 years ago, in which we had no right to do any of the above.”

Sen. Grassley set his sights on Major League Baseball, which moved its All-Star game out of Atlanta after the Republican-led state legislature passed a voter reform law to help ensure voter integrity in the state.

The Republican said the decision will likely cost Atlanta $100 million in lost revenue, as he spoke of a “concerted efforts by liberals and their allies to mislead about Georgia voting laws.”

“There’s an organized campaign started to make Big Business punish the people of Georgie for their political choices,” Grassley said, before mentioning MLB.

“When partisans and companies collude to ruin the livelihoods of their opponents, there’s a term for that: it’s economic terrorism,” he stated.

Grassley said it would be “naive to think that they’ll stop with the Peach State.” He also objected to the title of the hearing: “Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote.”

“Like others on this committee, I’m a fan of history — I try to learn from it,” he said. “I don’t use it to insult my opponents. As I said, the title of this hearing is offensive, and as a student of history, this title diminishes the very real challenges and unfairness that minorities endured in the Jim Crow south at the hands of southern Democrats.”

A group of conservative Black leaders sent a letter to Judiciary Committee leaders Dick Durbin, D-Ill. and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in defense of Georgia’s voter rights bills, saying it “will help rebuild voter confidence, and make sure every vote counts.”

Signees include Heritage Foundation President Kay Cole James, Ken Blackwell, the former ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Campaign, civil rights leader Dr. Alveda King, former Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones, and Col. Allen West, the chairman of the Texas GOP.

“Sadly, the public discourse about Georgia’s new voting reforms has not been civil, fair, nor honest,” the letter reads. “Politically motivated attacks against the new law have generated much heat, but little light.”

More from the letter:

“It has become clear that even well-intentioned critics of the law simply have no idea what the law is. It is clear they have no idea how favorably Georgia’s new law compares with most other states – including President Biden’s home state of Delaware. And it is clear they have no idea that a majority of Black voters across the country support the key provision under attack by critics – the simple requirement that voters be able to identify themselves when voting. This is the same simple requirement needed to pick up baseball tickets or board a plane – activities hardly as important as voting.

“Instead, critics of the law have substituted passion for reason, hysteria for judgment. They have launched a despicable smear campaign against supporters of the law and economic reprisals against the state of Georgia – punishing the very people they claim to champion. They have tarred with the brush of racism people whose only sin is a desire for confidence in our elections.

“It’s time to end these campaigns of misinformation, division, and hate. People of goodwill must find ways to expand voter access for all Americans, strengthen the security and integrity of our election process, and do so in a way that sees civil, respectful discourse between those who disagree.”

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Tom Tillison

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