Bad News for Democrats on Their Awful Election Reform Bill

New Poll: People Strongly Oppose Three Key Provisions

Non-partisan pollster Scott Rasmussen released results from a new poll on the Democrat’s “For The People” Act, HR 1. House Democrats voted in lockstep to pass the bill with 220 votes last week (minus US Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-MS) over unified GOP opposition. While the specific details (sample size, field dates, questionnaire, crosstabulations, etc.) had not been released as of this writing, Rasmussen conducted the survey for FreedomWorks, which strongly opposes the legislation (so do I). He may publish the results at his own site eventually. I hope he does.

I’ll just let his column in the Deseret News of Utah do the talking on the three top provisions strongly opposed by most Americans (emphasis added).

“…it should also be noted that three provisions of HR1 are extremely unpopular.

“First, HR1 would effectively ban states from requiring photo ID before voting. Among the general public, the consensus is exactly the opposite. Given a choice, 70% of voters prefer requiring that all voters provide some form of photo ID before casting a ballot. Just 12% prefer to prohibit states from requiring such identification. Another 11% believe states should set their own rules.

“On a partisan basis, support for requiring all voters to show photo ID comes from 84% of Republicans, 72% of independents and 57% of Democrats.

“Second, HR1 would make it illegal for states to remove voters from voter registration lists within six months of an election. By a 59% to 17% margin, voters prefer to head in the opposite direction and require states to remove from the lists people who have died or moved.

“Third, HR1 would require all states to accept any mail-in ballots for up to 10 days after Election Day. However, 74% of voters disagree and favor a provision requiring that all ballots be received by Election Day. Notably, that total includes 73% of those who voted by mail in the 2020 presidential election. Requiring all ballots to be received by Election Day is supported by 88% of Republicans, 69% of Democrats and 66% of independents.”

This should surprise no one. I don’t know whether Rasmussen tested the provisions on providing public financing of congressional campaigns (he didn’t say). And other provisions aren’t that popular, either, including providing too much time for early voting (more than two weeks).

The polling suggests that my outline for election reform is a far better starting point than the awful HR 1 and should give Senate Democrats serious pause about trying to jam the bill through their chamber. It will require busting the legislative filibuster to do it, since Senate Republicans seem unified in opposition, but that means trusting Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kristin Sinema (D-AZ) to live up to their frequently-professed commitment to maintain a 60-vote super majority to bring up and close debate on legislation.

However, you can bet smart and devious minds are at work to find way to get the legislation through with 51 votes, with some clever legislative maneuvering around the rules. As noted by the blog Political Insider: “Manchin has already flip-flopped on the Keystone XL pipeline and waffled on whether or not Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. should receive statehood.”

Now, Manchin is waffling on the filibuster. Filibuster “reform,” which Manchin expressed support for over the weekend, might include requiring a “talking” filibuster. That means at least 41 Senators would not be able to delay or stop consideration of legislation just by their votes. They would have to show up and control the floor through endless, round-the-clock speechmaking. That is sometimes done - Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have conducted “mini filibusters” that way - and the late Strom Thurmond, then a Democrat, established the record for the longest filibuster speech in opposition to the 1957 Civil Rights Act: 24 hours and 18 minutes. But talking filibusters don’t typically last very long; there are demands placed on Senators making them (can’t sit, can’t eat, no restroom breaks, etc.) and ways to thwart them.

The campaign “deform” bill is so bad as to be unamendable. But the Democratic coalition behind the bill is strong and unified, and the pressure on Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) will be intense. Schumer is up for reelection in 2022, and a certain popular Democratic congresswoman from Schumer’s left flank hasn’t ruled out a primary challenge. She strongly supports HR 1 and gets mad when the Senate doesn’t support her agenda.

While polls don’t ultimately decide legislative outcomes - votes do - they do clearly and obviously factor into the calculations. And Senate Democrats, especially those up for reelection in 2022, should factor it pretty seriously.