Will Sen. Kyrsten Sinema squander her chance to save democracy? – The Arizona Republic
It turns out that the farcical election audit orchestrated in Arizona by Senate President Karen Fann was not only a sham, it was a diversion.
The real threat to our democracy – an outright coup, really – was happening nationally at the same time within Republican-controlled legislatures like ours, where a raft of voter suppression laws passed here in Arizona and other states have the ability to transform the United States from a democratic republic into an autocracy.
The audit has been a ploy, a great one, too. Because while the kooks and conspiracy quacks amused, entertained and horrified us, their brothers and sisters in GOP-controlled legislatures passed a series of laws that will send us spiraling back to Jim Crow days … unless Congress acts.
And, by Congress, I mean Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
Time is running out.
As long as Sinema (and a few other Democrats) continue to protect the Senate’s outdated filibuster rule, requiring a 60-member majority to bring a bill up for vote, they are allowing Republicans in Congress to protect the GOP’s multi-state voter suppression efforts.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law issued a report noting that 17 states had passed 28 laws making it harder for people to vote, bills targeting minority communities, but which also negatively impact the elderly, the disabled and others.
Eliza Sweren-Becker, a voting rights and elections counsel at the Brennan Center, called the new wave of voting laws “an unprecedented assault on voting rights” as well as “a voter suppression effort we haven’t seen since the likes of Jim Crow.”
Arizona was among the most aggressive in passing such laws. Republicans forced through a law to purge voters from the Permanent Early Voting List by making that list less than permanent. They made it more difficult for voters to address ballot signature issues.
Republicans here even passed a law eliminating the ability of Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs to defend state election laws and transferring her authority to Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich, but only through the 2022 election. (Just in case a Democrat becomes the next AG.)
Really, how sleazy is that?
There’s even a new law ordering a review of voter registration databases in counties with more than a million residents. Get it? That means places like Phoenix and Tucson, which lean Democratic.
It goes on.
Congress has a chance to stop this.
The House has passed the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. If passed by the Senate, these two pieces of legislation would level the playing field nationwide, keep voting accessible and void the destructive anti-democratic laws passed in some states.
Sinema supports the bills, but continues to support the filibuster because she says it forces members of the Senate to work together. To compromise.
“The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles,” she has said.
The problem with that argument is that if the voter suppression laws stand there will not be any “opposing policy poles,” because one party will rule.
And if history has taught us anything, it is that autocrats don’t compromise.
They don’t have to.
Reach Montini at [email protected].
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