President Joe Biden is expected to deliver a major speech on voting rights in Philadelphia on Tuesday, likely denouncing an electoral reform bill being discussed in the Texas Legislature and the Senate’s inability to pass legislation on voting rights. Last month, the Senate’s 50 Republicans blocked HR1, the For the People Act, and other state legislatures – like Arizona, Georgia and Florida – passed election laws that many Democrats deem restrictive and undemocratic.
And yet the president could find a small – and admittedly unlikely – cohort of Republican allies on Tuesday.
A group of Republicans, former Republicans and conservatives recently launched a new campaign called “Republicans for the Right to Vote”. Their goal is to remove the notion that access to the vote and the integrity of elections are mutually exclusive, and to encourage Republicans in local and federal offices to protect the right to vote, not to be in it. oppose.
“In the past, talking about voting rights – especially the suppression of votes – was seen as a ‘liberal’ thing,” Amanda Carpenter, prominent political commentator and director of Republicans for Voting Rights, told Deseret News. “But Trump’s lie about a stolen election, and the legislation passed as a result, shows how critical it is that Republicans are also involved in these conversations.”
Curators involved include Bill Kristol, editor of The Bulwark; Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee; and Mickey Edwards and Charles Djou, both former members of the US House of Representatives.
Among their efforts is cracking down on allegations of widespread electoral fraud sufficient to overturn the 2020 election. Despite significant evidence to the contrary, former President Donald Trump supports the idea that he won the 2020 election and backs them. efforts to pass restrictive electoral laws. All Republican dissidents who wish to defend voting rights oppose Trump directly – whose influence on the GOP has not diminished.
Last month, more than 100 political scientists signed an open letter warning that “our democracy is fundamentally at stake” because of restrictive electoral reforms proposed by the legislatures of the Republican majority states, born out of false allegations of fraud. “The risk I see in these laws is that in order to win, anything goes,” Dr Laura Gamboa, one of the signatories of the letter, told Deseret News. “Once you have that mindset, democracy is gone.”
Carpenter and his pro-voting Republican allies find themselves at the foot of a steep hill – with the majority of their party weighing in from the top. They don’t agree with all parts of HR1 or all Democratic voting rights proposals. But as Tory supporters of limited government, Carpenter said there was nowhere else to go – the GOP is home, she says, warts and all.
“I don’t think I’ll ever give up challenging the GOP, where I am most at home, to be better,” she said. “If we go (the Republican Party), we leave it to the worst actors.”
But will the GOP move to criticism from a few members? In a March column for The Bulwark, Carpenter admitted that negotiating with today’s Republican Party over voting rights is nearly impossible. One party wants to make voting easier, she wrote, and the other wants to prevent everyone except their members from voting, period. “When these are the parameters of the debate on voting rights, there is no room for compromise,” she explained. “There is nothing to discuss.
Four months after writing this column, Carpenter seems more optimistic about the prospects for collaboration – or, at least, more dedicated to trying at all costs. “The argument I constantly hear from elected Republicans is, ‘Listen, my constituents believe these lies, and I have to sympathize with them,’” she told me over the phone last week. “What I tell them is that true leadership is a better way, which does not bow to lies.”
The reaction of GOP officials is out of Carpenter’s control. The goal, however, is to unite behind a common goal – to expose the “big lie” and protect the elections. “The potential is to find a coalition of like-minded conservatives who want a better way out of the Trump era,” she said. Even if putting democracy first means rejecting the majority of their own party.