By Jeff Mason and Daphne Psaledakis
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans face unprecedented barriers to having their voices heard in the upcoming 2022 and 2024 elections, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said on Wednesday.
In a panel at the Reuters Next conference, Griswold warned of multiple dangers to democracy in the United States, including bills designed to suppress voting https://www.reuters.com/world/us/un-expert-decries-gerrymandering-parts-us-that-denies-minority-voting-rights-2021-11-22, death threats against election officials and mistruths perpetuated by politicians both nationally and on a state level.
Democrats and Republicans are battling for control of the U.S. Congress next year and the presidency in 2024. Democrats hold a slim majority in the House of Representatives now and control in the divided Senate through Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.
“Warning lights are blinking red. We are seeing January 6, the attempted stealing of an American presidency, just in slow motion right now,” Griswold, a Democrat, said.
“What we’re seeing right now is no longer about 2020. It’s about 2022 and 2024, making what was attempted on January 6 more feasible the next time around. So I believe we are at an incredibly urgent time in terms of things that we have to do, that we must do,” she said.
Former President Donald Trump has claimed, falsely, that the result of the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent, and urged a group of loyalists to march on the U.S. Capitol after a rally on Jan. 6. His supporters did so, invading the Capitol, leading to five deaths https://www.reuters.com/world/us/officer-who-responded-us-capitol-attack-is-third-die-by-suicide-2021-08-02.
James Glassman, chairman and CEO of the Glassman Advisory and former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in former President George W. Bush’s administration, called for structural reforms to the voting system, including changing to a popular vote for the presidency rather than the Electoral College.
Glassman also advocated for ranked-choice voting, which he said would help enable third parties to “have a chance.”
Griswold called for the Senate to pass legislation, whether the Freedom to Vote Act or the “John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-senate-democrats-return-voting-rights-with-eye-filibuster-2021-11-03,” to counter voter suppression.
Both bills have faced Republican opposition and have stoked calls from Democrats to alter a Senate rule that would make it more difficult for the minority party to erect barriers to election reform legislation. Democrats have not yet coalesced around such a plan.
Reuters in September reported https://www.reuters.com/world/us/backers-trumps-false-fraud-claims-seek-control-next-us-elections-2021-09-22 that a group of Republican secretary-of-state contenders in U.S. swing states have embraced Trump’s false claims that he lost a “rigged” election. Their candidacies have alarmed Democrats and voting-rights groups.
Secretary-of-state candidates face primary elections next spring and summer and general elections on Nov. 8, 2022.
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(Reporting by Jeff Mason in Washington; Writing by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Matthew Lewis)