December 16, 2021

Senator Hirono Calls On Democratic Colleagues To Act On Voting Rights Legislation

Sen Hirono: “It’s crystal clear by now that Republicans have absolutely no interest in protecting the right to vote. For Republicans, voter suppression and jerrymandering is their path to victory. Democrats cannot sit back and allow a political party to maintain power by denying Americans their right to vote.”

Sen: Hirono: “We figured out a way to save our economy, we can figure out a way to save our democracy.” 

WATCH FULL VIDEO OF SENATOR HIRONO’S FLOOR REMARKS HERE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) spoke on the Senate floor about the urgent need to pass voting rights legislation. Given Republican’s refusal to do their jobs and protect the fundamental right to vote, Senator Hirono urged her Democratic colleagues to act on filibuster reform in order to advance voting rights legislation.

“Before President Trump, Republicans at least tried to pretend their laws weren’t blatantly discriminatory. But now they aren’t even attempting to hide the fact that they are purposefully trying to make it darn near impossible for Black people and other people of color, elderly individuals, students, working families, and people with disabilities to vote,” Senator Hirono on the Senate floor. 

“The fact that Republicans continue to claim that these voter suppression tactics are necessary to protect election integrity would be laughable if it wasn’t so deeply damaging to our democracy. We all know that countless investigations have uncovered absolutely no evidence of systemic or widespread voter fraud. We all know that the 2020 election was the most secure election in our nation’s history. And we certainly all know this not about voter fraud, it’s about advancing a political agenda by denying large swaths of Americans their fundamental right to vote. If this isn’t un-American, I don’t know what is. Which is why voter suppression is the most urgent crisis facing our country today. And which is why, it is the single most pressing issue the Senate must address,” she added.

A transcript of Senator Hirono’s remarks is available below:

“M. President, the foundation of American democracy is built upon the sacred right to vote, and there is no doubt that right is under attack today. This year alone, 550 voter suppression bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country.

“In Texas, it is now illegal to compensate workers who help voters who don’t speak English and for election officials to encourage eligible voters to apply to vote by mail. In Fulton County, Georgia—a county that historically votes Democratic—the number of ballot boxes has been reduced from 38 to 8. That’s one ballot box for every 100,000 voters. And in Florida, ballot drop-off boxes can only be utilized during early-voting hours and boxes must be located at either a county’s elections office or early-voting sites.

“Republicans have even gone so far as to make it illegal to hand a bottle of water to voters waiting in line. I truly want to know how you can even pretend to justify that law?

“But when you shut down or severely limit the hours of polling locations, remove eligible voters from the voting list, create unnecessary hurdles to vote, and eliminate Election Day registration, who do you think this hurts?

“Before President Trump, Republicans at least tried to pretend their laws weren’t blatantly discriminatory. But now they aren’t even attempting to hide the fact that they are purposefully trying to make it darn near impossible for Black people and other people of color, elderly individuals, students, working families, and people with disabilities to vote.

“The fact that Republicans continue to claim that these voter suppression tactics are necessary to protect election integrity would be laughable if it wasn’t so deeply damaging to our democracy. We all know that countless investigations have uncovered absolutely no evidence of systemic or widespread voter fraud. We all know that the 2020 election was the most secure election in our nation’s history. And we certainly all know this not about voter fraud, it’s about advancing a political agenda by denying large swaths of Americans their fundamental right to vote.

“If this isn’t un-American, I don’t know what is.

“Which is why voter suppression is the most urgent crisis facing our country today. And which is why, it is the single most pressing issue the Senate must address. 

“We need to pass Build Back Better. And we need to fight against attacks on a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, attacks on unions, and so much more. Because battles for rights that we thought we had won, don’t stay won.

“But we won’t succeed in preserving these hard won rights if we don’t protect the right to vote. To quote my friend and colleague, Senator Warnock, “voting rights are preservative of all other rights.”

“We are nearing the one-year anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. This violent insurrection and mob violence was the direct result of blatant lies told by the former President and his supporters about systemic fraud and a “stolen election.” We are still learning the consequences of that day, but we know for certain this act of domestic terrorism was an attack on free and fair elections in this country. Yet, Republicans continue to spread the same lies about election fraud and push through legislation at the state level to silence Americans across the country.

“Congress must take action to restore the integrity of our voting system and make sure every American’s voice is heard and counted. And we’ve tried. We’ve tried four times to stop these unconstitutional state level laws from undermining our elections.

“We’ve tried to pass common sense reforms that would allow all eligible voters to vote by mail; make Election Day a federal holiday so all working families can vote; and establish federal criminal penalties for deceiving voters with false and misleading information about voting.

“And most importantly, we’re tried to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would give the Department of Justice the tools to keep these blatant voter suppression laws from being enacted in the first place. Only one Republican joined us in voting for this bill. The same bill that was being touted as bipartisan.

“It’s crystal clear by now that Republicans have absolutely no interest in protecting the right to vote. For Republicans, voter suppression and jerrymandering is their path to victory. Democrats cannot sit back and allow a political party to maintain power by denying Americans their right to vote.

“Quoting Senator Warnock again, “as we cast that vote to begin addressing the debt ceiling, this same chamber is allowing the ceiling of our democracy to crash in around us. We figured out a way to save our economy, we can figure out a way to save our democracy.  

“Filibuster reform is the path Democrats need to take to fight back against the Republicans all out voter suppression assault on our democracy. I call on my Democratic colleagues to act.

Thank you M. President.”

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