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Roger F. Wicker

06/22/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/22/2021 18:59

Wicker Says S.1 Would Harm Our Democracy

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today spoke from the Senate floor opposing the radical policies in S.1 and urging his colleagues to join him in voting against the legislation.

'S.1 seeks to transform the way we do elections in thiscountry - and to do so on a narrow, partisan basis,' Wicker said.

In his remarks, Wicker pointed out the clear unpopularity of this legislative proposal, citing that 81% of Americans are concerned about allowing voters to vote on Election Day without photo identification.

'It is clear that S.1 is not popular,' Wicker said. 'It is squarely at odds with the views of the majority of the American people.'

Wicker noted that even the liberal ACLU opposes this legislation.

'My colleagues who are pushing S.1 say they are trying to save democracy, but, in fact, the bill would actually harm democracy,' Wicker argued. 'S.1 would undermine the security of the ballot box, causing more and more Americans to question the outcome of our elections.'

Remarks as delivered:

Mr. President, I, too rise in opposition to S.1 and urge a no vote. The bill that the Senate will be asked to consider today is a truly radical piece of legislation. It turns out, because of that, it is an unpopular piece of legislation - the kind of bill the Senate was created to help stop from becoming law.

S.1 seeks to transform the way we do elections in this country - and to do so on a narrow, partisan basis. Here's what Americans need to understand about this legislation.

First, it would strip away the power of the states to run elections and hand it to the federal government, showing a complete lack of trust in local and state leadership.

It would also spend millions of taxpayer dollars to help politicians run ads for their campaigns. Taxpayers would suddenly have to finance partisan messages they may strongly disagree with, raising serious First Amendment questions. S.1 would nullify sensible voter ID laws across the country, including voter identification laws in predominantly Democrat states like Connecticut and Delaware. The legislation would also give the federal government the right to draw congressional district lines, even though states have done this since the beginning of our Republic.

At its root, this bill is based on a myth. And I consider my words here, Mr. President, it is based on a lie. And that lie is that voting rights are somehow under attack in states like Georgia and Texas. This is utterly absurd, and I think the voters in those states understand that. The election reforms recently passed in Georgia, for example, have actually expanded access to the ballot box - making it easier to vote, but also making it harder to cheat.

The new Georgia law does this, among other things. It expands the window for early voting. The new Georgia law allows no-excuse mail-in voting to continue. It adds 100 new ballot drop boxes. It allows voters to get a government-issued ID for free. And it also increases transparency in elections - for example, making sure the ballot counting does not stop in the middle of the night, as we've seen in past elections. These reforms are entirely reasonable and widely popular across America and were based on broad input from local stakeholders.

My colleagues who are pushing S.1 say they are trying to save democracy, but, in fact, the bill would actually harm democracy. S.1 would undermine the security of the ballot box, causing more and more Americans to question the outcome of our elections. We should be working to strengthen trust in democracy, not weaken it. Mr. President, the only thing bipartisan about this bill is the opposition to it.

In my home state of Mississippi, every member of the House of Representatives, Democrat and Republican voted against this legislation, including Democrat Representative Bennie Thompson, a chairman of a committee in the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Democratic National Convention of 2020, who said he voted against it because it was opposed by his constituents.

The ACLU has come out against S.1, saying some provisions 'unconstitutionally impinge on the free speech rights of American citizens and public interest organizations.' Hardly a right-wing conspiracy group, the ACLU.

The United States Chamber of Commerce, along with 300 other organizations, has said this legislation is 'fundamentally incompatible with the American tradition and the principles enshrined in our Constitution.'

And when you ask the public about the specific proposals in this bill, many Americans - conservative and liberal - Democrat, Republican, and Independent - are outright opposed. According to a recent poll,81 percent of people say they are concerned with allowing voters to vote without any form of photo ID.

Eighty-three percent say they are concerned with ballot harvesting practices. This practice of having party operatives go door-to-door and pick up large numbers of ballots to turn them in. Sixty-eight percent of Democrats are opposed to so-called ballot harvesting. And 56 percent of people say they oppose taxpayer dollars being used to pay for political campaigns. This again cuts across party lines.

So it is clear that S.1 is not popular. It is squarely at odds with the views of the majority of the American people. Every Senator who votes Yes will need to prepare to explain to the voters why they wanted to overturn state voter ID protections, allow ballot harvesting, force taxpayers to pay for political campaigns, and enact a partisan, federal election commission. That's why S.1 should be rejected this afternoon and that's why it will be rejected. Thank you, Mr. President, and I yield the floor.