Attention Americans! Our Democracy is Under Serious Assault

Carolyn Leighton

March 10, 2021

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I am so concerned about the fact that our democracy is under assault at a level I have never experienced in my (long) lifetime, I feel compelled to bring to your attention what is going on that attacks the central foundation of our democracy - every citizen's right to vote.

As the daughter of parents whose families escaped brutal anti-Semitism, I grew up in a family grateful to be living in America - deeply appreciative of the privilege of getting an excellent education, and the ability to build a family business, free of the daily terror imposed upon citizens who live in cruel, autocratic societies.

The America I grew up in took pride in our democratic country and was grateful for the privilege to vote for policies and candidates aligned with our values.

Now, for the very first time, there is a significant movement among multiple states to make it as difficult as possible for everyone to vote.

Four months after Iowans voted in record numbers, Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed legislation cutting the state's early voting period and closing the polls an hour earlier on Election Day.

The Iowa Legislature approved the measure and sent it to Reynolds' desk late last month. Every Republican present for debate in the House and Senate voted for the legislation. Every Democrat voted against it. Reynolds, a Republican, signed the law Tuesday.

In 2020, voters turned out at the highest level in 100 years, thanks in part to expanded vote-by-mail.

In response, state-level Republicans are introducing an unprecedented amount of legislation to restrict voting rights, according to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice.

State legislators in 28 states have filed 106 bills restricting the franchise thus far in 2021 - and the overwhelming majority have come from Republicans. Compare that to last year at this time: then, only 35 such bills had been filed in six states.

"We are seeing a backlash," says Eliza Sweren-Becker, the report's lead author. "Rather than going out and trying to persuade voters, we're seeing legislators trying to shrink the electorate in order to ensure job security for themselves."

The proposed legislation largely falls into two categories: bills that either increase the difficulties individual Americans would face absentee voting or that give officials greater leeway to shrink the voter pool. Some are attempts to roll back voting rights expansions necessitated by the pandemic; others are retreads of policies Republicans have pushed before, like expanded voter identification laws.

The passage of these laws will, essentially, depend on whether Republicans control both the statehouse and the governorship in the states in which they've been introduced - a reality in 18 of the 28 states. And while Sweren-Becker says their constitutionality would hinge on the way each bill is written and implemented, a lot of them have a decent chance at sticking around.

What can you do about it? Join me in contacting your state and federal representatives demanding that they support HR1, the bill which will ensure that American elections will be decided by American voters, without interference, by enhancing federal support for voting system security, and oversight of state elections.

We thankfully voted Trump out - now we must not allow his corrupt leadership to further destroy our democracy.

Please email me your questions and comments:

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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