In a contentious hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., blasted Democrats for what he described as a “false narrative” regarding voter suppression allegations.
“The bill simply tries to make it easier to vote,” Klobuchar said, according to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. “The For the People Act is the best chance to stop the rollback of voting rights.”
Sen. Roy Blunt speaks on Capitol Hill in 2015. (Reuters)
But during his questioning of witness Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, Blunt alleged that the Klobuchar-backed proposal was an attempt to federalize elections under the guise of trying to protect voters’ rights.
Blunt asserted that lawmakers have frequently introduced similar legislation over the years, only to see plan after plan fail to become law.
“It’s a great excuse to upend a system that’s served the country well for a long time,” Blunt said, referring to local control of elections.
The senator then asked Waldman why his group has suggested one state’s effort to remove the names of dead people from voter rolls would be an example of voter suppression.
“Because there are frequently errors in the lists that are used in Social Security and other …” Waldman began, before Blunt interjected.
“So your view would be, the federal government is not capable of telling the state which Social Security recipients died and no longer get a check, so we should turn the entire election over to a federal structure. I just don’t agree …”
Klobuchar then interrupted: “Senator Blunt, can we allow the witness to answer the question, please?”
“No,” Blunt replied.
“No? No?” Klobuchar responded.
Blunt then explained why he thought Waldman had adequately addressed his inquiry.
“The witness did answer the question,” Blunt said. “Senator, the witness answered the question by saying the federal government often is in error in giving information to the states. That was the answer to the question.”
At the same hearing, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asserted that Democrats planned to use same-day and automatic voter-registration programs so that “millions of illegal aliens” and “criminals” could obtain the right to vote, the Star Tribune reported.
Senate leaders Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., got into a brief clash over the Democrats’ plan.
“I would like to ask my Republican colleagues, why are you so afraid of democracy? Schumer asked, according to CNBC. “Why, instead of trying to win voters over, that you lost in the last elections, are you trying to prevent them from voting?
“Shame, shame shame,” Schumer added.
“Talk about shame,” McConnell countered. “If anybody ought to be feeling any shame around here, it’s turning the FEC[Federal Elections Commission] into a partisan prosecutor. The majority controlled by the president’s party to harass and intimidate the other side — that’s what you ought to be ashamed about.”
The Democrat-controlled House previously passed its voter rights legislation earlier this month, with no support from Republicans.