June 22, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today voted to open Senate debate on legislation aimed at protecting voting rights in the face of a range of legislative efforts in states across the nation that seek to make it more difficult for Americans to exercise their right to vote. In response to these bills, Senator King has sought to set a floor of minimum expectations that would prevent states from making it harder to vote while still providing states with the autonomy to create their own procedures. In a Senate Rules Committee markup last month where the bill was debated and amended, Senator King cited Maine’s accessible voting rules and extremely low level of fraud as an example of how elections can and should be administered. Despite Senator King’s support, the motion to proceed was defeated by a vote of 50 to 50, as all members of the Senate GOP caucus voted against opening debate on the topic.
“Elections have been the backbone of American government for nearly 250 years – and over the course of our history, we have worked to form a more perfect union by steadily (albeit slowly) expanding access to the ballot box to more and more Americans,” said Senator King. “It is my fervent belief that we must carry on this effort by working to ensure that voting is simple and accessible for every eligible voter who wants to participate. Unfortunately, in light of the demonstrably false accusations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, we’re seeing states across the country push in the opposite direction. Dozens of state legislatures are considering – or have already enacted – sweeping legislation aimed at rolling back fundamental protections for voting rights. The goals of these state bills are clear: to make voting a more onerous process for citizens simply trying to make their voices heard.
“In light of these threats to the lifeblood of American democracy, I was hopeful the Senate could come together to open a debate on legislation that would ensure that voters pick politicians – not the other way around. The goal here was to establish a floor that ensures every American can exercise their right to vote, while still providing states the flexibility to adjust rules in ways that better serve their citizens. Unfortunately, every one of my GOP colleagues voted to block any discussion of the issue, denying us the opportunity to build toward consensus that would defend our time-honored electoral traditions – including a serious effort at compromise introduced in recent days that was rejected instantly. I am deeply saddened by this outcome; voting rights should be America’s foundation, not a partisan fault line. This is a blow to our democratic system, but I am determined that it will not be a fatal blow. In the days to come, I will forge ahead in conversations with any colleague who will engage in good faith to find a path forward that strengthens voting protections and protects the American experiment in self-government for future generations.”