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Senate Democrats once again couldn’t pass sweeping legislation to protect voting rights, a move that pleased the GOP, who continue their fight to gerrymander and restrict democracy for all American citizens. The Freedom to Vote Act failed to move to a debate, with a 49-51 roll call for the GOP.

The Freedom to Vote Act would have promoted automatic voter registration, provided for two weeks of early voting opportunities, and allowed absentee voting for any reason. The bill would also restrict gerrymandering, the process of designing districts in order to favor one party over another.

The 49-51 vote along party lines officially ends the debate over the latest version of the legislation that President Biden has vowed to sign. The bill cannot advance without 60 votes, which would require at least 10 Senate Republicans to support it. 

Democrats can’t overcome Republican opposition to voting rights

According to Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), “For every two steps forward, sometimes there are those who try to pull us one step back. Unfortunately, we find ourselves today in the midst of such a struggle.”

Continued Senator Schumer, “The Biden administration is continuing to press for voting rights legislation to safeguard our democracy from these historic threats to constitutional freedoms and the integrity of elections through legislation, executive actions, outreach, the bully pulpit, and all other means available,” he said, referencing the big lie that former President Trump’s supporters endorse, believing that the disgraced twice-impeached former White House occupant actually won the 2020 election.

However, President Biden received over 7 million more votes than Trump. Mr. Trump also lost the popular vote in 2016 to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Democrats vow to try again

In the end, Senator Schumer actually changed his vote in order to follow a procedural motion that allows the legislation to be brought up again in the future. Senate Democrats vow that this is not the end of the fight to protect democracy and voting rights for all citizens.

“I want to be clear: if Republicans join us in proceeding to this bill, I am prepared to hold a full-fledged debate worthy of the U.S. Senate,” said Senator Schumer.

“What we can’t accept is a situation where one side is calling for bipartisan debate and bipartisan cooperation while the other refuses to even engage in a dialogue. If our Republican colleagues don’t like our ideas they have a responsibility to present their own.”

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...

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