Murkowski to vote ‘no’ on voting rights bill
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on Tuesday announced that she will vote against advancing a sweeping election reform bill spearheaded by Democrats out of fear that the legislation “does not move us further down” the path of ensuring that elections are fair.
Murkowski, in remarks delivered on the Senate floor before the chamber is scheduled to vote on advancing the measure, called the legislation “wholly partisan” and said she is concerned that it is “not so much about voting rights as it is a federal takeover of the election system and a partisan takeover of the election system.”
“It certainly contains some noteworthy goals, but I fear that there are provisions contained within S.1 that take it too far or that I think are bad policy or that I simply think are beyond the power of Congress to regulate,” Murkowski added.
I have stood behind legislation to ensure our elections are fair. We have come a long way toward meeting that goal, but there remains a long path ahead of us. The bill before the Senate unfortunately does not move us further down that path.
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) June 22, 2021
The legislation is unlikely to advance to debate when it is taken up by the full chamber on Tuesday, as no Republican senators have signaled support for the bill.
The measure did gain some support on Tuesday, however, when Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), one of the Democratic caucus’s most conservative members, said he would vote to advance the bill after striking a deal with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on a compromise proposal.
Murkowski, during her speech on the Senate floor, said she has a “problem” with the notion that the federal government cannot rely on states to “do elections right or fairly.”
“So much of my concern with what we have in front of us is that when you nationalize something, when you have kind of the federal overall oversight, it ends up being a one-size-fits-all mandate coming out of Washington, D.C., that in many cases doesn’t work in a place like Alaska,” she said.
Murkowski said there are certain aspects of the bill she “absolutely” supports, particularly focusing on early voting. She said casting ballots should not be limited to just Election Day.
The Alaska Republican did, however, emphasize her support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would restore portions of the 1965 law that were rolled back by a 2013 Supreme Court decision.
She said she “absolutely” intends to co-sponsor the bill because it is “narrowly focused on voting rights,” unlike S. 1, which she described as “broad.”
“I will work with anybody on this initiative to help update this formula to ensure that we do have just exactly that: access to voting that is equal, that is fair, that is free from discrimination,” the senator added.
She concluded her remarks, which ran for nearly 20 minutes, with Vice President Harris presiding over the chamber, by making a final push for showing Americans that elections are fair.
“Americans need to have faith in our institutions. They need to know that our elections are fair, that they are easy and accessible for all, and we can’t instill that trust with a wholly partisan effort. We’ve got some work to do. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and it’s important work,” Murkowski said.