When a government makes a power grab, the grabbers typically claim to be acting “for the people.”
Thus when Democrats took control of the House, Senate, and White House this year, the first bill in each chamber was titled “The For The People Act,” aiming to centralize election administration, strike down state election-integrity laws, politicize the Federal Election Commission, and restrict political speech.
The bill is not merely a power grab. It’s also a messaging bill. But on that front, it’s failing in a fitting way.
The “For the People Act” was supposed to signal the Democrats were the pro-democracy party while trying to brand Republicans as anti-majoritarian. More to the point, the bill was supposed to be the Democrats’ excuse to crush minority rights by abolishing the filibuster. Ironically, the bill lacks a majority in the Senate.
It shouldn’t be surprising the bill can’t pass the Senate. In the House, party loyalty is everything. In the Senate (in an inversion of the Founders’ vision), there’s more concern for public sentiment. And the public isn’t on board with some of the most important provisions of this law.
The Democrats’ bill would ban all states from checking the identification of voters. They have convinced themselves and many commentators that it is somehow racist voter suppression to ask for ID in this one setting. Most people believe it’s reasonable to ask for ID when someone shows up to vote.
Only 36% in one recent poll by Grinnell College said lawmakers should “eliminate laws that require voters to show a photo ID.” Another poll asked whether people support voter-ID requirements. The Yays won 53-28.
It’s hard to argue you’re on the side of “the people” when you’re trying to strike down laws that a clear majority supports as a way of protecting the integrity of their elections.