Voting rights and election reform: Senate Republicans block latest legislation

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WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a vote to advance Democrats' latest voting rights and election reform legislation.

The bill – the Freedom to Vote Act – is more scaled back than previous pieces of voting rights legislation, like the For the People Act, but would establish some federally mandated election rules.

More: Senate Democrats unveil new voting rights bill in latest effort to bring federal rules to elections

The Freedom to Vote Act comes after months of Democrats haggling on the issue, insisting that passing election reform is a top priority for them. That's especially the case as former President Donald Trump and Republican state lawmakers continue to push "the big lie," advancing baseless conspiracy theories to falsely argue the 2020 election was stolen.

But nearly 10 months into President Joe Biden's term, Democrats have not been able to advance any legislation due to Republican filibustering.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday that "Trump's big lie is spreading like a cancer among Republicans. Here's a chance for bipartisanship to repair that damage."

Republicans in Congress have opposed federal laws that govern how states run their elections, blocking debate on the legislation and its chances of moving forward in the upper chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., changed his vote to "nay" at the end so he can bring the legislation up again at a later date if he wishes. That made the vote 49-51, with all Republicans voting against.

The Freedom to Vote Act would create a federal standard for voting by mail and drop boxes – means of voting that Trump and some Republican lawmakers attacked during the 2020 election. The legislation would also expand early voting options and access to mail-in ballots, battle dark money in elections and allow for same day registration on Election Day.

It is less sweeping than the For the People Act, which required states to establish independent redistricting commissions to draw future maps, made changes to the Federal Election Commission and included broader changes than the Freedom to Vote Act.

The Freedom to Vote Act was a compromise among Senate Democrats after previous pieces of legislation failed to gain support from moderates within the party.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V. — who threw his support behind the Freedom to Vote Act after being wary of prior pieces of sweeping legislation like the For the People Act — was trying to court Republicans on the bill. He met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY., on the legislation last month.

But convincing at least 10 Republicans to join Democrats was going to be a difficult feat.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Senate Republicans block latest election reform legislation

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