MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace welcomed PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor onto her show Tuesday evening to discuss the imminent Senate vote on the Democrats’ sweeping “voting rights” bill, known as the For the People Act. The upper chamber ultimately voted not to enter debate on the bill in a party line, 50-50 vote with Democrats voting in the affirmative and Republicans in opposition.
Alcindor characterized the broader debate around the bill as a debate about “what is American democracy and who should have access to it?” Then she went even further, calling it “a debate about whether or not we want America to be the place that the Founders — flawed as they may have been — the Founders wanted it to be, which is a place where people could vote and people could have access to who were their elected officials.”
PBS’s @Yamiche on HR1: "This is going to be a debate about whether or not we want America to be the place that the Founders — flawed as they may have been — the Founders wanted it to be." pic.twitter.com/TX1a06MDXb
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) June 22, 2021
Her comments come just six and a half months after the 2020 election cycle, which smashed the previous record for raw number of voters in a presidential election and saw the highest turnout as a percentage of the voting-eligible population since 1900. It’s unclear to what Alcindor — who spends most days in the West Wing and made her appearance from the White House lawn — was worried about when she implied that Americans do not presently have “access” to their elected officials.
Alcindor cited the analysis of “activists” to support her claim that the Founders would approve of S. 1. On the other hand, the founders themselves drafted Article I of the Constitution, which explicitly grants state legislatures the right to determine the “times, places and manner” of congressional elections.
The passage of the “For the People Act” would mean the federalization of America’s election systems and would eliminate the right of states to establish certain election security measures, bar felons from voting, and make other similar determinations.
The bill is also constitutionally dubious thanks to the limits it places on speech — even the progressive American Civil Liberties Union thinks so, so it might not be exactly what the founders had in mind.