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Senate Republicans attack Democratic bill as 'politically motivated ... takeover' of election system

Senate Republicans denounced a sweeping elections bill backed by Democrats as a “politically motivated federal takeover of the election system,” setting up a high-stakes battle ahead of a debate Tuesday over one of the Democrats' biggest legislative priorities.

In a GOP messaging document obtained by The Hill, Republican senators lambasted the bill as legislation that would “make elections more chaotic and less secure.”  

They specifically said the bill allowed unlimited ballot harvesting, undermined popular voter ID laws and made it more difficult to maintain accurate voter lists, all of which they said “makes election fraud easier to commit and harder to detect.”

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The Senate Rules Committee will meet on Tuesday to debate and vote on the bill, dubbed the For the People Act.

The legislation calls for states to offer mail-in ballots, a minimum of 15 days of early voting, online and same day registration and the creation of independent commissions to draw congressional districts in an effort to eliminate partisan gerrymandering.

Senate Republicans also argued that the bill politicizes the Federal Election Commission by “pouring” federal funds into campaigns and “chilling” free speech, which they said in turn “tips the scale in favor of Democrats.”

They also said the bill would “force a single, partisan view of elections” in jurisdictions throughout the country, which they say will shift control from local officials to bureaucrats in Washington.

The messaging comes as GOP-led legislatures throughout the country are proposing and enacting sweeping elections laws that would restrict access to the ballot box. Florida's and Georgia’s governors have already signed measures into law.

The House passed the For the People Act for a second time earlier this year, after it stalled in the GOP-controlled Senate last year. The bill did not receive any Republican support in the House when it passed in March.

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Republicans have already filed around 150 amendments to the bill in attempts to weaken or sink it.

Outside groups view the bill, and the likelihood that Republicans filibuster it, as a make-or-break moment for the Senate’s rules change debate.

Democrats do not currently have the 50 votes needed to remove the legislative filibuster and the 60-vote threshold for advancing bills, as a handful of members, including Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSinema defends filibuster ahead of Senate voting rights showdown The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population Democrats go down to the wire with Manchin MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaSinema defends filibuster ahead of Senate voting rights showdown Democrats go down to the wire with Manchin Progressive groups ramp up pressure on Feinstein MORE (D-Ariz.) are not on board with nixing or weakening the longstanding rule.

The GOP senators, nevertheless, warned Democrats that it would be a “huge mistake” to "permanently change the nature of the Senate and ram it through now."

“S.1 is chock full of unnecessary and unpopular provisions that would erode voter confidence in elections. It is the same partisan wish list Democrats have tried and failed to pass in the past. It would be a huge mistake for them to permanently change the nature of the Senate to ram it through now,” the messaging memo reads.

Jordain Carney contributed.