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Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican senator from Mississippi, defended a Georgia proposal that would have curtailed early voting on Sundays during elections, suggesting doing so would go against the word of God.
“I cannot speak for Georgia, but I can speak for Mississippi on why we would never do that on a Sunday or hold an election on a Sunday,” she said during a Senate committee hearing on voting rights legislation on Wednesday.
Ms Hyde-Smith read “the United States of America, in God we trust” printed on a dollar bill.
She added: “Etched in stone in the US Senate chamber is ‘in God we trust’. When you swore in all these witnesses, the last thing you aid to them in your instructions was ‘so help you God’. In God’s words in Exodus 20:18, it says ‘Remember the sabbath and keep it holy.’”
The senator was responding to Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who condemned a proposal from Republican state lawmakers in Georgia to drop Sundays from early voting periods, which would disproportionately impact Black churches and “souls to the polls” voting campaigns that follow Sunday services.
He said: “What an astonishing coincidence – no early voting on a day where many Black voters show up? Monday through Friday there’s normal voting, but on Sunday, voter fraud shows up?”
That proposal was later abandoned, though state lawmakers in Georgia and more than 40 other states are considering dozens of Republican-sponsored bills to restrict ballot access, fuelling decades-old attempts to limit voting rights with former president Donald Trump’s persistent lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
S1, or the For The People Act, would standardise ballot access at the federal level, eliminate long-standing barriers to voting and allow candidates with smaller platforms to wield more political power, among other provisions. The House of Representatives passed its version of the bill earlier this month.
The bill would enshrine some voting access efforts in place in several states, including automatic voter registration and same-day registration. It also restores voting rights to formerly incarcerated people and eliminate partisan gerrymandering and the influence of dark money in politics.