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Mitch McConnell Admits Voter Suppression Is Great for Republicans

Voting is not a "power grab."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) smiles while talking with reporters

Earlier this month, House Democrats revealed their first piece of legislation for the year–a large-scale attack on voter suppression and election corruption. The HR-1 bill has a huge scope and addresses issues from campaign finance reform to lobbying restrictions to automatic voter registration. It also proposes that Election Day be made a paid federal holiday.

Mitch McConnell has called the bill the “Democrat Politician Protection Act,” and if you’re wondering what he means by that, he took to the Senate floor to explain.

Essentially, he said the thing that we always knew to be true, but that you’re not supposed to just come right out and say out loud: that voter suppression is good for the Republican Party, and that the more people vote, the worse it is for them.

“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. “This is the Democrat plan to restore democracy? A brand-new week of paid vacation for every federal employee who would like to hover around while you cast your ballot?”

That last bit is referring to a part of the bill that offers vacation days to any federal employee who volunteers to work the polls on election day. Poll working is a nonpartisan, unglamorous, underappreciated job and many polling places have a hard time finding enough staff to work the approximately 15-hour-long shift the day requires. I don’t know why Mitch McConnell would be discouraging people from taking on that job except that he’s making it clear he would be happiest if we just did away with voting altogether.

There are a number of objections to making Election Day a holiday, but high voter turnout isn’t supposed to be one of them. McConnell basically confirmed that Republican lawmakers don’t want more people to vote. And they especially don’t want voting to be easier for the sorts of people who have trouble voting on a Tuesday–low-income people, single parents, those with inflexible work hours and who don’t work in industries likely to already get paid time off for voting, etc.

According to Mitch McConnell, the greatest opposition to the Republican Party is not Democrats, but the American people.

This bill was never likely to get through the Republican-majority Senate, but if Democrats’ goal was to shine a spotlight on the GOP’s reliance on voter suppression, mission accomplished.

(image: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.