WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a revamped voting rights bill that would expand voter registration as well as create nonpartisan redistricting committees, but the measure is still likely to face an uphill battle in an evenly divided Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will bring the legislation to the floor of the Senate “as soon as next week,” but supporters will need the backing of 10 Republicans to advance beyond a GOP filibuster.
The 592-page bill, spearheaded by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota Democrat who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, is the product of months-long negotiations with moderate Sen. Joe Manchin III, (D-W.Va.).
Manchin wavered on an earlier package of sweeping elections reforms and voting rights initiatives, the For the People Act, that passed the House in March but stalled in the Senate. This new version has been dubbed the Freedom to Vote Act.
“I applaud Senator Manchin for his work here,” Schumer said. “He has always said that he wants to try and bring Republicans on, and now, with the support of Democrats and this compromise bill—which Senator Manchin had great input into—he can go forward in that regard.”
Klobuchar said in a statement that the freedom to vote is fundamental.
“With the Freedom to Vote Act, the entire voting rights working group, including Senators Manchin and Merkley, is united behind legislation that will set basic national standards to make sure all Americans can cast their ballots in the way that works best for them, regardless of what zip code they live in.”
New national holiday
If passed, the bill would designate Election Day a national holiday, along with enacting automatic voter registration for each state, so that all voters would have access to online voter registration, backers said.
The bill would also extend at least 15 days of early voting for federal elections. Many Republican-controlled states have passed voting- related legislation that limits early voting. Read more