United States: Joe Biden is struggling to make progress on his electoral reform

Published on Jan. 2024 to 6:

It is a new reform of the White House which seems becalmed. After the blocking in the Senate of his great plan of social and climate measures, Joe Biden sees the horizon darken to review the electoral laws. “I hope we can get there, but I’m not sure,” the US president admitted Thursday after a meeting with Democrats in the Senate. “One thing is certain, he still assured: as with all other great civil rights bills, if we miss the first time, we can come back and try a second time. “

The Democrats have seen initiatives flourish for months in the States to revise the organization of the elections. After a record participation in the presidential election of 2020, favored by a relaxation of the voting methods, republican states are closing the floodgates. For example, they reduce the opening hours of polling stations or the possibility of voting by post. Confidence in the ability to vote in the next election has also eroded in one year, from 74 % to 64%, according to a November study by Bright Line Watch.

“Electoral subversion”

Above all, now denounces Joe Biden, certain states “continue to modify the law, not to know who can vote, but to know who can count the votes. This is about electoral subversion, not just about whether people can vote or not”. A movement fueled by the pressure of a Donald Trump anxious to take his revenge on 2020.

To counter this movement, the Democrats want to pass two bills in Congress, which would be imposed on the States. The Freedom to Vote Act provides that election day (every Tuesday following the first Monday in November) is a holiday, to allow citizens to go to vote. It also provides for days of advance voting in all states and authorizes postal voting. A second text, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, proposes to strengthen federal control and prohibits in particular anything that would reduce the right to vote of a minority.

Obstruction procedures

In a speech in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday, Joe Biden gave the green light to reform of obstruction procedures ( “filibuster”) of the Senate, the only way to pass bills. A reform which, however, presupposes the agreement of 64 Democratic senators, which has not yet succeeded in obtaining The President – Joe Manchin and Kristen Sinema are opposed.

After having long pleaded for union and reconciliation, Joe Biden has gone on the offensive to counter Republicans in a position of force at the start of this election year. The president is also under pressure from his constituents, in particular civil rights movements, who criticize a lack of concrete action.

The Republicans, for their part, are fighting for block out Democratic bills. Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Joe Biden’s speech in Atlanta a “demagogue”. “The president’s diatribe was wrong, incoherent and unworthy of his office,” he replied in session. Republicans, who take advantage of the current rules of political representation, do not want to open Pandora’s box.