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Newsmaker: Md Rep.John Sarbanes (D-03) On The Fight For Voter Rights

Photograph of Congressman John Sarbanes on 12/22/18 at his home in Baltimore.
Marshall Clarke
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Rep. John Sarbanes was the architect of HR1, also called the "For The People Act."

The Maryland congressman describes the legislative drive to counter Republican-led voter suppression.

Democrats in the Maryland legislature are proposing an array of bills that will make voting easier and more accessible. But elsewhere in the country, Republican lawmakers have redoubled efforts to restrict and curtail voting. The Georgia Senate has voted to end no-excuse absentee voting and they are considering a measure that would prohibit passing out water and snacks to people who were waiting in line to vote.

In Iowa, new laws reduce polling place hours and early voting. In Arizona, lawmakers are considering rules to allow throwing out ballots even if they’ve arrived before Election Day.

The Brennan Center for Justice in New York reports that following historically high voter turnout in the November 2020 elections, more than 250 restrictive bills were making their way through 33 statehouses across the country.

The bills will place restrictions on mail in voting and create barriers to casting mail in ballots. They will expand voter roll purges, limit opportunities to register to vote, and implement stricter voter ID requirements.

Earlier this month, the Democratically-led US House of Representatives passed HR 1, called the “For the People Act,” which would create a federal remedy to these efforts to curtail engagement in the democratic process. The bill calls for sweeping reforms in voting rights, redistricting, campaign finance and ethics. Senator Amy Klobachar has announced that the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, which she chairs, will begin hearings soon on a Senate version of HR1, called S1.

Republicans oppose the legislation on the grounds that it represents federal overreach in matters that should be left to the states.

Tom’s guest today is Congressman John Sarbanes, a Democrat who represents Maryland’s Third District, including parts of Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties, as well as a portion of Baltimore City.

Representative Sarbanes was the principal architect of HR 1, and he joins us on the line from Washington, D.C.

Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Rob is Midday's senior producer.