WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, during her second in-person town hall of 2021 on Monday evening attacked bills sponsored by Republicans she says dismantles free and fair elections by suppressing voters.
Iowa lawmakers passed and Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a comprehensive election reform bill during the 2021 session. Several other states passed similar bills in an effort, Republicans say, to address election security and integrity.
Axne told a group of approximately 40 people that they needed to fight those efforts.
“It’s time for every American to stand up and realize that and fight back against voter suppression, dark money in politics. These are the things that have brought our country down. And it’s time that we stand up and take it back for who we are so that every young person that’s sitting here today thinks that their vote actually counts,” Axne said. “Because right now, if I was a young person, I would be wondering what some of these people think about my vote, when they’re running around the country, trying to put laws in place that limit ability for people to vote.”
She then promoted H.R. 1, the “For the People Act,” which House Democrats have passed twice on party-line votes during the 116th and 117th Congress.
“Now, we’ve passed House Resolution 1, which is a sweeping ethics, get money out of politics, and address voter suppression in this country. The fact that we cannot see that bill getting passed right now that the Senate is struggling to pass that bill. I’m astounded that anybody who is in an elected office can’t vote for a bill that takes influence out of elections and takes and allows people to have free and fair voting. I would argue that people who believe who think that this bill is irrelevant. I don’t know if they’re fit for those types of jobs. Because if you’re not willing to stand up for our democracy and the ability for everybody to vote, then we need more people,” Axne said.
U.S. Senator Joe Machin, D-W.Va., wrote an op/ed stating that he does not support H.R. 1. which essentially guarantees that the bill will not pass in the Senate.
He was concerned about the partisan nature of H.R. 1 and bills at the state level.
“Democrats in Congress have proposed a sweeping election reform bill called the For the People Act. This more than 800-page bill has garnered zero Republican support. Why? Are the very Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump because of actions that led to an attack on our democracy unwilling to support actions to strengthen our democracy? Are these same senators, whom many in my party applauded for their courage, now threats to the very democracy we seek to protect?” he asked.
“The truth, I would argue, is that voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen,” he added.
A Heritage Foundation analysis said H.R. 1 “would implement nationwide the worst changes in election rules that occurred during the 2020 election; go even further in eroding and eliminating basic security protocols that states have in place; and interfere with the ability of states and their citizens to determine the qualifications and eligibility of voters, ensure the accuracy of voter registration rolls, secure the fairness and integrity of elections, and participate and speak freely in the political process.”
Addressing Machin’s opposition during a press avail after the town hall, Axne said she hoped he was doing what he thought was right.
“If we don’t get this thing passed, we’re seeing state after state, their voter rights being dismantled. it’s that important. I mean, honestly, this is a make or break for this country. If Americans want to retain a democratic process, they need to jump on board and start saying we need to protect voters and then stop with this voter suppression,” she said.
“I take a lot of hard votes in states like Iowa. I think people who are authentic and true to their convictions and who, you know, are representing their people that they serve – they’re going to make it back. And I think anybody who stands up for the Constitution and for the people’s right to vote will make it back. I want to talk to him and tell him he’s got support on the House side,” Axne added.
The Iowa Torch asked the congresswoman to address critics who said H.R. 1 would federalize elections.
“We’re not necessarily federalizing election law. There’s so much that the states do. The only thing that we want to see done in the House is that elections are fair and voters are not suppressed. And unfortunately, tactics are being taken right now that are doing those two things. So, you know, I certainly want states to be able to do what they need to do for fair and safe elections. But if we’re seeing dismantling of that in the States, then it is time that we look at that at a federal level because we’re all in this together,” Axne said. “If we don’t work together, we become the country that we’re not supposed to be. And, as a matter of fact, people who are tearing that down, you know, we fought for these things in the Civil War.”
Editor’s note: The Iowa Torch will provide the full video of the town hall which dealt with a variety of topics in a separate update.