Tapper: Why don't Democrats seem to care about overly strict voting laws in blue states?

A leftover from yesterday. He posed this question to Lisa Blunt Rochester, the lone representative in the House of a state that prohibits both early voting and absentee voting without a valid excuse and requires non-photo voter ID at the polling place.

That state? Delaware, longtime home of the president of the United States.

The clip cuts off early but you can read a transcript of Rochester’s answer here. It’s no answer at all.

Republicans have been flagging the unforgiving voting laws in blue strongholds since last spring, when Democrats accused states like Georgia and Texas of instituting a “new Jim Crow” by passing laws that are less restrictive in certain respects than laws in states like Delaware and New York. Even outlets that are normally hostile to conservatives, particularly on this subject, had to concede that the GOP had a point. The Atlantic reviewed the roll of shame last year:

Connecticut has no early voting at all, and New York’s onerous rules force voters to change their registration months in advance if they want to participate in a party primary. In Rhode Island, Democrats enacted a decade ago the kind of photo-ID law that the party has labeled “racist” when drafted by Republicans; the state also requires voters to get the signatures of not one but two witnesses when casting an absentee ballot (only Alabama and North Carolina are similarly strict). According to a new analysis released this week by the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research, Delaware, Connecticut, and New York rank in the bottom third of states in their access to early and mail-in balloting.

The restrictions across the Northeast are relics of the urban Democratic machines, which preferred to mobilize their voters precinct by precinct on Election Day rather than give reformers a lengthier window to rally opposition. Democrats who have won election after election in states such as New York, Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have had little incentive to change the rules that helped them win.

Delaware will finally allow early voting this fall after being publicly embarrassed by how far short their own state falls of the standard Democrats have set for Republicans. The truthful answer to Tapper’s question, which he surely knows, is contained in the excerpt above: Dems don’t care about voting laws in states where they reliably win because they’re getting the outcome they want. It’s the mirror image of the GOP scrambling to “reform” the laws in Georgia last year even though there’s zero evidence that meaningful fraud occurred there in 2020. They didn’t get the outcome they wanted in November so Something Must Be Done. In blue states, Democrats always get the outcome they want so Nothing Must Be Done.

Why, a cynic might conclude that the left’s screeching about voter suppression from the new Republican laws is mostly just a partisan cudgel aimed at energizing their own base.

The problem with using that cudgel is that it puts you on the hook for delivering a solution. If you can’t, your base might grow disenchanted. Worse still for Dems, voting rights aren’t an animating issue for most of the electorate. Americans broadly support liberalizing voting laws (more early voting, automatic voter registration, etc), per a new Politico poll, but it isn’t a subject that’s going to determine how they vote in the fall:

We asked voters which of three voting reform ideas should be “the top priority” for Congress to pass: reforming Congress’ role in counting Electoral College votes, expanding voting access in federal elections or expanding oversight of states’ changes to voting practices. “None of the above” (32%) beat out all of them.

The result is the worst of all worlds for Democrats. They’re spending political capital on an issue that’s unlikely to matter to most voters if they succeed and highly likely to demoralize their own voters if they fail. And given Joe Manchin’s and Kyrsten Sinema’s seemingly unbreakable commitment to the filibuster, failure is all but assured.

In fact, the same Politico poll found that Americans are slightly opposed to ending the filibuster. When asked if the Senate should require 60 votes to advance legislation or 51, more people say the former (41 percent) than the latter (40 percent). The only way realistically to get Manchin and Sinema to reconsider their position would be if a huge groundswell of popular support for changing the rules arose. As it is, the public is evenly split.

Speaking of which, I’ll leave you with Mitt Romney(!) flogging Democrats by comparing them to Trump(!!) in their quest to end the filibuster.