Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema joined all 50 Republicans and one other Democrat in delivering a stinging blow to democracy on Tuesday, when she refused to support a change to an outdated Senate rule that requires 60 votes to pass bills to secure and protect voting rights.
In refusing to eliminate the filibuster–a tool that gives the minority party the ability to obstruct bills supported by the majority, and has been used to obstruct anti-lynching bills, anti-discrimination bills, and Civil Rights bills–Sinema effectively signed off on Republicans’ efforts to make it harder for Arizonans to vote.
Spurred on by former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election and his efforts to purge the Republican Party of anyone who challenges those lies, at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting in 2021, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey and the Republican-led legislature passed three voter suppression laws, including a measure that could remove tens of thousands of voters from the state’s early voting list. These efforts will make it more difficult for ordinary Arizonans to use their voice and have a say in the quality of schools their children attend, the kind of housing they can afford, and how much they pay in taxes.
The Democrats’ bill–The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act–would make it harder to subvert federal elections, introducing a flexible voter ID measure and requiring the use of paper ballots in most voting systems. It would also ensure 15 days of early voting, expand vote-by-mail, make Election Day a national holiday, and make it more difficult for states to pass voting laws that discriminate against Black, Latino, elderly, and young Americans.
Sinema claims to support the bill itself, but in refusing to eliminate an arcane rule–a decision that earned her handshakes from some of the very Republicans that embraced Trump’s election lies–she signaled that protecting Arizonans’ right to vote is not one of her priorities.