There’s still hope for election reform

Sen. Susan Collins is spearheading bipartisan negotiations to fix some of the most dangerous vulnerabilities to our elections.



January 31, 2022 - 10:15 AM

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, center, walks back from the House Chamber followed by a Senate procession carrying boxes of electoral votes, at the U.S. Capitol, on Jan. 7, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Like many scholars of democracy, I have strongly supported both the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. Both are necessary (though not sufficient) to secure the most precious rights in any democracy — the right to vote and the right to have one’s vote counted fairly and accurately.

Most supporters of these bills believed the urgent need for them justified lifting the Senate filibuster and passing them on a purely partisan vote. But with the refusal of Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (or any Republican senators) to vote to suspend the filibuster, it’s clear that these bills will not pass this Congress.

The only remaining option is to pare back the reform cause to a much narrower agenda that can command bipartisan support. Democrats must recognize that politics is the art of the possible, and democratic responsibility demands that we not sacrifice what is valuable and possible on the altar of the unattainable. That means supporting the bipartisan efforts to reform the Electoral Count Act.

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