Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) delivered his first floor speech on Wednesday, condemning Republican attempts across the country to make it harder for people to vote.
“We are witnessing right now a massive and unabashed assault on voting rights and voter access unlike anything we have seen since the Jim Crow era,” Warnock, Georgia’s first Black senator, said. “One person, one vote is being threatened right now. Politicians in my home state and all across America, in their craven lust for power, have launched a full-fledged assault on voting rights … [and on] democracy itself.”
Former President Donald Trump lost the November presidential election — both the Electoral College and the popular vote — and falsely claimed that the system was “rigged.” Despite there being no evidence of meaningful voter fraud, Republican state lawmakers have picked up this narrative, claiming that changes are necessary for transparency and to ensure fair elections.
Georgia had record turnout in November, when the state went to President Biden, and in January, when Warnock and Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) won their runoff elections, giving Democrats control of the Senate. Earlier this month, lawmakers in the Republican-led Georgia state Senate and House both approved bills that would limit early voting days and absentee voting, and on Wednesday, work began on a measure that would give the state sweeping authority over local election officials, add voter ID requirements for absentee voting, and limit early voting on weekends.
Warnock is the lead sponsor of the Senate’s For the People Act, which could override such restrictive state measures. The House’s version of the bill passed along party lines last month, and would make voter registration automatic, eliminate partisan gerrymandering, weaken voter ID laws, and expand early and mail-in voting.
“This issue, access to voting, and preempting politicians’ efforts to restrict voting, is so fundamental to our democracy that it is too important to be held hostage by a Senate rule,” Warnock said, referring to the filibuster. “Especially one historically used to restrict expansion of voting rights.”