Biden calls efforts by state legislatures to restrict voting 'sick', 'un-American', and 'despicable'

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Grace Panetta
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Joe Biden press conference
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Washington. AP Photo/Evan Vucci
  • President Joe Biden called efforts to restrict voting "sick, "un-American," and "despicable."

  • Republican state legislatures across the country are advancing restrictive legislation.

  • "This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle. This is gigantic, what they're trying to do," Biden said.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

President Joe Biden called efforts to restrict voting registration and laws in many state legislatures "despicable," "sick," and "un-American" in his first news conference as president.

At the conference, CBS' Nancy Cordes asked Biden whether he fears that the bills currently in the pipeline in states could make it more difficult for Democrats to hold their control of the US House and the US Senate in 2022.

"What I'm worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It's sick. Deciding in some states that you cannot bring water to people standing in line waiting to vote? Deciding that you're going to end voting at 5 o'clock when working people are just getting off work? Deciding that there will be no absentee ballots under the most rigid circumstances?," he said.

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An analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice found that, as of February, lawmakers in 43 states have introduced and filed over 250 measures that would restrict voting and over 700 pro-voter measures that would expand voting and registration opportunities. Very few of the restrictive bills have been passed and signed into law so far.

Biden said that he'll work to get the For the People Act, Democrats' flagship voting, campaign finance, and democracy reform bill passed through Congress. The US House passed the bill by a vote of 220-210 on March 3, with the Senate Rules Committee holding a hearing on the bill on Wednesday.

"The Republican voters I know find this despicable. Republican voters, folks outside this White House, I'm not talking about the elected officials, I'm talking about voters. And so I'm convinced that we'll be able to stop this because this is the most pernicious thing. This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle. This is gigantic, what they're trying to do. It cannot be sustained," he said.

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States of particular concern to voting rights advocates include Arizona and Georgia, which have rapidly shifted from red to purple in the past decade but still have state governments controlled by Republicans.

On Thursday, the Georgia State House passed an omnibus package that would expand early voting in most counties, require voters to put down a drivers' license or another identifying number to verify their mail ballots, and make the use of ballot dropboxes permanent but limit how many boxes counties are allowed to offer.

One of the most controversial provisions of the package would prohibit volunteers from bringing food and water to voters waiting in line.

Republican lawmakers are also pushing voting restrictions in states where former President Donald Trump and other down-ballot Republicans won handily in 2020, including Florida, Montana, Texas, and Iowa.

These laws are largely being advanced under the guise of boosting "election integrity" and preventing fraud, although there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Read the original article on Business Insider