Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday railed at the Democrat-sponsored “For the People Act”, a sweeping election reform bill he said amounts to the “biggest power grab” by Congress in the history of the country.
Democrats have claimed the legislation is necessary to serve as a bulwark against what they describe as Republican-led efforts in states to prevent minorities from being able to cast ballots.
Republicans counter that those state-level changes are necessary to reaffirm election integrity and legislatures’ constitutional role in deciding balloting and voting procedures after governors, secretaries of state, and state courts made last-minute changes to established rules ahead of the November elections, claiming they were necessary because of COVID.
During an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Graham, a South Carolina Republican, went further, saying that congressional Democrats were really more interested in taking away states’ historical role in deciding how to hold elections and give it to the federal government.
“In my view, S.R. 1 is the biggest power grab in the history of the country,” Graham said. “It mandates ballot harvesting, no voter ID. It does away with the states being able to redistrict when you have population shifts.
“It’s just a bad idea, and it’s a problem that most Republicans are not going to sign — they’re trying to fix a problem most Republicans have a different view of,” he added.
Host Chris Wallace noted that some compromises have been offered by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), which include expanding early voting, a ban on so-called “gerrymandering” of congressional districts, and a voter ID requirement, though the latter could be bypassed by presenting an alternative document like a utility bill showing residency in a given district.
But Graham pushed back on those compromises as well.
“Well, one, I like Joe Manchin a lot, but we had the largest turnout in the history the United States, and states are in charge of voting in America, so I don’t like the idea of taking the power to redistrict away from the state legislators,” Graham noted.
“States are in charge of voting in America so I don’t like the idea of taking the power to redistrict away from state legislators,” he continued. “You have people moving from blue states to red states. Under this proposal you would have some kind of commission redraw the new districts and I don’t like that.
“I want states where people are moving to have control over how to allocate new congressional seats. So as much as I like Joe Manchin, the answer would be no,” said Graham.
Retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio also pushed back on Manchin’s proposals as well as the Democrat bill in general, describing it as a “federal takeover of the election system.”
NEW: Manchin's memo on voting legislation "is a federal takeover of the election system," says @SenRobPortman on #MTP@ChuckTodd: "Is that a takeover? … Federal government tells the state how to spend transportation money sometimes." pic.twitter.com/LUhDuFge8n
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) June 20, 2021
“Unfortunately, what he does is what the larger bill S. 1. does, which is it takes the election system in this country and federalize it, so it’s a federal takeover of our election system,” Portman told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday.
Todd countered by saying Washington already makes all sorts of requirements of states already when federal dollars are involved.
“Well, that’s true, and there’s federal money provided for that. In this case, what he’s saying to the state of Ohio or your state of Florida [is] ‘We’re gonna decide how redistricting is done. We’re gonna take it away from the democracy, in effect,'” Portman said regarding his West Virginia colleague’s compromises.
“The bottom line is we should make it easy to vote in this country. We should also make it hard to cheat,” Portman added.
“I’m proud of our Ohio election system, and I think they do a very good job,” Portman added. “Again, I appreciate he’s trying to find that middle ground, and, who knows, maybe something can be done.”
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