Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is reported to be a “hard no” for a radical overhaul of U.S. election law, known as the For the People Act, according to the Associated Press.
The proposed law, supported by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, passed the House along party lines. The bill would make voter fraud easier and change campaign finance laws. Every state would be required to set up 15 days of early voting and absentee ballots would have to be issued for any reason. All states would be required to provide same-day voter registration for federal elections, and allow voters to change their registration at the polls.
The bill would require automatic voter registration for all, vote by mail for all, and even though it would require vote by mail, it would make Election Day a federal holiday. It would require all states to adopt online voter registration (now adopted in 39 states), and require states to allow all 16- and 17-year olds to pre-register to vote in advance of becoming eligible to vote at age 18.
Under the bill, states would be greatly restricted in their ability to clean up their voter rolls, as the law would prevent purging of names six months before an election. The bill restores voting rights to felons who have completed prison terms.
HR 1 was originally introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes in 2019, as on behalf of the Democratic majority that took control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 election. It was the first official piece of legislation for the 116th United States Congress, but was blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate.
Now, the Senate is split but the Democrats are in charge because they control the White House, and the bill is said to be heading for a floor vote the week of June 21. It appears all Republicans are against the measure as is Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia conservative Democrat.
A separate bill, called the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would reauthorize provisions of the Voting Rights Act and is more likely to get bipartisan support.
Murkowski and Manchin wrote to the leaders of both the Senate and House on May 17, urging the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, and arguing that voting rights has “not been a partisan issue” since the bill was first passed 1965 and “we must not allow it to become on today.”
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would reestablish Justice Department oversight over voting laws in states with a history of discriminatory practices. Those states that were once under Justice Department oversight included eight Southern states plus Alaska.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, lifting federal supervision of Alaska’s elections. The 5-4 ruling said that the VRA method for identifying states needing federal election oversight was unfair and arbitrary.