Analysis: Joe Biden puts it all on the line in voting rights battle
It took a year for Joe Biden to make an irrevocable bet that puts the credibility of his presidency on the line. If his bid now to change Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation fails, he'll lose more than just the bills he sees as vital to saving democracy. His drained political capital could spell the end of the entire domestic, legislative phase of his administration. © Patrick Semansky/AP President Joe Biden speaks in support of changing the Senate filibuster rules that have stalled voting rights legislation, at Atlanta University Center Consortium, on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University, Tuesday, Jan.
Kaleigh Rogers, a technology and politics reporter at FiveThirtyEight, appeared on Hill.TV's "Rising" to discuss new restrictions on voting being passed in a number of states. © AP Photo/Ben Gray A voter walks in to a building
"We track more than 500 bills. About 50 of them were actually passed into law, and they were across many different states," Rogers said, adding that the restrictions range from voter ID laws to more extreme policies like control over local election board officials.
"A lot of it is being funneled or fueled by belief in the big lie, so constituents think that there was something wrong with the 2020 election and they want to see their lawmakers respond to that and do something about it, and so this is how a lot of Republican lawmakers are responding," she continued.
Biden's speech didn't cover emerging critical threats to US elections
The speech, while focused on voting rights, obscured the more significant threat to the country’s election integrity for the midterms and the 2024 presidential election: the idea that a future election loser could subvert the country’s electoral machinery to take power. Trump's crusade to overturn the 2020 election failed, but not wholly, for across the country, between Jan. 1 and Dec. 7, 2021, at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting voting access. More than 440 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states in Republican-led 2021 legislative sessions.
Rogers attributed some of the changes in the laws to the pandemic, but added that the level of new voting barriers was out of the ordinary.
"We haven't quite seen this level of new voter restriction laws coming in, and to some extent, that makes a lot of sense because there was so much voter expansion to the pandemic, you would expect to see some of those being rolled back as we go back into kind of more normal election cycles, but it goes even beyond that," she said.
"If you're introducing any kind of barrier to voting, no matter how small, if it's not addressing a specific problem or security issue, that is voter suppression point blank," she added, citing conversations she has had with experts on the topic.
President Biden recently made remarks about election legitimacy during a press conference at the White House on Wednesday.
As voting rights push fizzles, Biden's failure to unite his own party looms again
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, both Democrats, said Thursday they were against filibuster changes, spoiling Biden's efforts to pass voting rights.On Thursday, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, dealt a potentially fatal blow to Biden’s renewed push for federal voting rights legislation. In a surprise speech on the Senate floor, she flatly rejected Biden’s plea – issued less than 48 hours earlier – to change the filibuster rules so Democrats could muscle through the voting rights bill without any Republican votes.
During that press conference, the president would not say the results of 2022 elections would be legitimate without the passage of election law reforms.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki has since clarified that Biden was not casting doubt on the legitimacy of the upcoming midterm elections, but was instead saying results would be illegitimate if states followed directives made by then-President Trump after the 2020 election to "toss out ballots and overturn results after the fact."
Voting rights fight shifts back to statehouses as Senate Democrats fail to advance national protections .
Just weeks from the first primaries of the 2022 midterm elections, the fight over voting rights is unfolding again at the state level -- with Republicans in several swing states proposing new measures that would make it harder to vote. © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America/Getty Images A view of voting booths at the Santa Clara County registrar of voters office on October 13, 2020 in San Jose, California.