Senate

Warnock: ‘Almost impossible to overstate’ importance of voting rights legislation

Greg Nash

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) touted on Thursday the need for Congress to pass voting rights legislation as a number of Republican-run states, including Georgia, eye restrictions to the ballot box.

“It is almost impossible to overstate how important this really is. We are at an inflection point. This is a moral moment in America, a defining moment in our history. Voting rights is not just one issue alongside other issues. It is about who we say we are, it is about our covenant with one another as an American people,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“And so we’ve got to get on board. I know there’s a big debate about the filibuster, I’m sure we’re going to have to have that debate. But my argument is voting rights is bigger than the filibuster, and we must pass voting rights whether we get rid of the filibuster or not.”

Warnock, who was elected to the Senate in a January runoff, has become a vocal advocate for voting rights legislation during his short time in Congress.

The Georgia Democrat used his first floor speech in the Senate to underscore the importance of the For the People Act, a sweeping elections reform bill that passed the House earlier this month, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act that protects voting rights.

The For the People Act would require states to offer mail-in ballots, a minimum of 15 days of early voting and calls for online and same-day voter registration. The legislation also calls for the creation of independent commissions to draw congressional districts in an effort to put an end to partisan gerrymandering. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would prevent state legislatures from unilaterally making changes to voting procedures.

“We should have 100 votes in the Senate for voting rights. It used to be a bipartisan issue,” Warnock said Thursday. “What I hope to do is to appeal to the conscience of all of my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans. I believe in democracy.”

Warnock’s remarks come as several states, including his own, mull voting restrictions that critics say are efforts to suppress the vote among people of color — voters who lean Democratic.

Georgia’s legislature is considering bills that would end no-excuse absentee voting and automatic voter registration, limit early voting on weekends and require more identification to vote absentee.

Those changes could impact Warnock’s 2022 Senate race, when he will run for a full six-year Senate stint after winning the special election in January to finish the remainder of former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) term.

Tags Absentee ballot John Lewis Johnny Isakson Raphael Warnock United States Senate

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