Voting rights in the spotlight as 2022 midterms approach

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 8:12 AM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - As the calendar flips to 2022, the future of representation in Congress hangs in the balance. Experts say 2022 is set to be a consequential year for voters, and after a controversial 2020 election year, there will be a spotlight on who can vote and how.

“What Congress and the president do over the next several months is going to determine the fate of our Democracy,” said Mike Sozan from the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress.

The U.S. Senate is considering two voting rights bills. The Freedom to Vote Act would expand mail voting, early voting, automatic voter registration, curb partisan redistricting, and more. The second is the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a reauthorization of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Sozan argues these bills are essential for voter access.

“Wherever you live in America, you would be given a baseline protection for your right to vote,” said Sozan.

The House passed both pieces of legislation months ago, but the bills ran into a brick wall in the Senate. Almost none of the 50 Senate Republicans are willing to even discuss the legislation and 60 votes are needed to pass because of the filibuster. Some politicians, including President Joe Biden, suggest nuking the filibuster in this instance, allowing the legislation to pass with a simple majority.

“Our Democracy is at a crossroads right now,” said Sozan.

If the legislation does not pass, voting changes will come at the state level. Many Republican-controlled state legislatures around the country have been hard at work passing their own new laws.

“They’re making sure that the election results can be counted upon, and that’s a critical thing for us to do,” said Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.).

Johnson says the Republican efforts around the country will help to ensure a fraud-free 2022 midterm election. He references bills passed in legislatures like Texas where they are criminalizing some voter assistance and making it harder to mail in ballots. Johnson cites the 2020 election as justification for stricter voting laws, despite nearly every level of the justice system rejecting claims that voter fraud took place.

“I believe because that hard work has been done I think we’re in good shape going into 2022,” said Johnson.

The federal legislation remains stalled as lawmakers prepare for the elections that could change the entire makeup of Congress.

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