As States Add Voting Restrictions, Democrats Say Reform Bill By Maryland’s John Sarbanes Is ‘Vital to Protect Our Democracy’

May 8, 2021
In The News

Congressional Democrats are launching a concerted push on behalf of an ambitious voting rights and campaign reform bill sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland that backers say is urgently needed because voter access is being threatened around the country. Sarbanes’ legislation was years in the making and is a defining bill for the eighth-term lawmaker and son of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes. It has not attracted critical Republican support, but has become a signature measure for Democrats eager to protect voting rights heading into the 2022 midterm congressional elections. They also want to showcase their efforts to limit the role of big money in campaigns, tighten ethics rules for members of Congress, and end the drawing of sharply partisan U.S. House districts.... “The stakes couldn’t be higher,” Sarbanes said. “It meets a lot of the challenges we’re facing right now....” Sarbanes said he and other Democrats won’t break the package into pieces, not even to try to salvage some elements. “It doesn’t make any sense. It’s not going to get you Republicans,” he said. “It’s not going to solve your problem in terms of getting to 60 votes.” Sarbanes said the Democrats believe the public broadly favors the bill’s proposals, and that the party plans to try to leverage that support to sway opponents. Sarbanes, a lawyer, represents portions of Baltimore City and of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties. The congressman said he was influenced by his father, whom he called “a reformer.”