Obama Calls for Voting Rights Bill Before Next Election (Getty Images)
By Theodore Bunker | Monday, 21 June 2021 05:15 PM
Former President Barack Obama on Monday called for a voting rights bill, saying that the nation needs one before the next election in case of “the same kinds of shenanigans that brought about January 6,” The Hill reports.
"We can't wait until the next election because if we have the same kinds of shenanigans that brought about January 6, if we have that for a couple more election cycles, we're going to have real problems in terms of our democracy [in the] long term," Obama said on a call with grassroots supporters along with his former attorney general, Eric Holder.
"Despite what you may have heard, we believe there is a path forward for this bill to get passed," said Holder, the chairman of the group that organized the call, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.
"Since I left office I've tried to make a policy not to weigh in on the day-to-day scrum in Washington," Obama said.
"But what's happening this week is more than just a partisan bill coming up or not coming up to a vote," he added, referring to the For the People Act, which is set to be considered by the Senate this week.
“I do want folks who may not be paying close attention to what's happening … to understand the stakes involved here, and why this debate is so vitally important to the future of our country,” Obama said.
He also called on Republicans to resist the urge to filibuster the bill.
"Republicans in the Senate are lining up to try to use the filibuster to stop the For the People Act from even being debated," he said, adding, “that’s not acceptable.”
Obama also voiced his support for the compromise proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., saying that it’s “an effort by maybe the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, or maybe the most conservative Democrat in Congress … to come up with some common sense reforms that the majority of Americans agree with, that Democrats and Republicans can agree with.”
Manchin would preserve the bill’s ban on partisan gerrymandering, at least two weeks of early voting, making election day a holiday and automatic voter registration, but would also include a voter identification requirement and would not include universal mail-in voting.
Obama noted that GOP-controlled state legislatures have begun passing their own laws that would allow politicians to overturn or otherwise interfere with election results.
“Republican politicians who didn’t like the outcome of the presidential election … now want to change the rules for how ballots are counted, and who gets to count them,” he said.
He added that “individually each one of these laws making it harder to vote may not seem like a big deal” and that “a lot of people voted in the last election.” However, “the violence that occurred in the U.S. capitol on January 6, just a few months ago, should remind us that we can't take our democracy for granted.”
He went on to say that “Around the world we've seen once-vibrant democracies go in reverse. It is happening in other places around the world and these impulses have crept into the United States … we are not immune from some of these efforts to weaken our democracy.”