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  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. | Photo: Reuters

Published 31 January 2019

"Voting isn't a 'power grab, it's democracy," U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted after a Republican Senate leader's comments against a voting rights bill.

Republican leaders in the United States expressed open contention to policies that would make it easier for Americans to vote on the Senate floor Wednesday, sparking alarm from voting rights groups and Democrats.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky ridiculed a provision in a piece of legislation, called the "For the People Act" (H.R. 1), that would make Election Day a federal holiday. McConnell said it was a "power grab” from Democrats.

"Just what America needs, another paid holiday and a bunch of government workers being paid to go out and work for I assume our folks—our colleagues on the other side, on their campaigns," McConnell said.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand among others, voiced concern for McConnell’s remarks.

"Voting isn't a 'power grab, it's democracy, and it's literally the entire point of our representative government,” Gillibrand tweeted. “And by the way: Not only should Election Day be a federal holiday, we need automatic voter registration and universal mail voting, too."

The act would allow millions of Americans who aren't able to get to take time off work, the ability to vote in elections, as well as establish automatic and same-day voter registration as well as early voting across the country. It could also enact gerrymandering reform to rectify historical partisan and racial redistricting, Common Dreams stated.

"The title of the legislation itself—the For the People Act—is a good reminder of who democracy is here to serve: the people," Craig Holman of Public Citizen said Tuesday as the first hearing for the act took place.

"Lawmakers have a chance to show the American people that America truly cares about transformational and comprehensive pro-democracy reforms by ensuring election access, restoring voting rights, reforming ethics laws, and protecting the integrity of our elections," he added.

Voter turnout was the highest it's been in decades during the midterm elections last November, with many young voters turning up at the polls. The elections were marked by voter suppression of minority voters in Georgia, and of Native Americans in North Dakota.

However, there were historic gains for women and minority representation in the U.S. House which flipped from Republican to Democratic control, creating more resistance in the legislative branch to President Donald Trump.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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