FARGO — In a stunning assault against one of our most basic freedoms, voting rights are under siege in this country. More than 250 bills have been introduced in 43 state legislatures that would make it harder to vote. Two of those legislatures are in North Dakota and Minnesota. I’m not sure what they are trying to accomplish in North Dakota. Republicans already hold every statewide office and hold 85% of the seats in the state Legislature.
If enacted, these bills nationwide would shamefully purge voter rolls, make it harder to vote by mail, reduce polling hours, locations and drop boxes, shorten early voting time periods, and require stricter identification. In Georgia, where the lines for Black Americans to vote are notoriously long, and it can take hours to vote, it will now be illegal to hand out food or water to those waiting in line. That’s just cruel!
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s going on. Republicans, who have lost control of the U.S. House, Senate and presidency in the last two years, are trying to ensure a different outcome in the years ahead. In other words, if you don’t like the last results, change the rules. They are especially targeting people of color, low income voters, and students. These are people more likely to vote for Democrats.
All of this stems from the Big Lie that just won’t go away. The lie that the last presidential election was rigged and stolen. Never mind that none of the states found any significant voter fraud. Never mind that Chris Krebs, Donald Trump’s director of election cybersecurity, called the election, “The most secure in American history.” Never mind that about 60 bogus cases of alleged voter fraud were thrown out of court, including by some judges appointed by Trump.
The Big Lie is straight out of the playbook of Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, who said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
It’s clear that the only way to stop this voter suppression is by federal legislation. The U.S. House has already passed a bill that would prevent restrictions on voting by mail, make it difficult to purge names from voting lists, and require at least two weeks of early voting. The problem is that legislation is doomed to fail in the Senate, because of its unfair and undemocratic filibuster rule.
That means you need 60 votes to pass legislation. I’ve never understood why 41 votes in the Senate defeats 59 votes. Just like I’ve never understood why getting 59% of the vote for a school bond election in North Dakota is not enough for passage.
The filibuster is not in the Constitution. It has historically been used to block civil rights. Now, once again, it is being used to block voting rights. It is time for the filibuster to go. If not overall, then certainly for the voting rights bill. Our democracy is under attack, and its future is at stake.
Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director. Email email@example.com