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Regional News

Washington senator among those defending voting rights bills on Senate floor

Sen. Cantwell in voting rights debate
Screenshot from C-SPAN
Sen. Maria Cantwell [D-Washington] speaking during debate about two voting rights bills on the Senate floor, Jan. 18, 2022.

Maria Cantwell was one of several senators who spoke Tuesday.

Northwest senators were among those making the case for two voting rights bills in floor debate today [Tuesday].

The Freedom to Vote Act would add several provisions to federal law to make it easier for people for vote. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act would require states with a history of voting discrimination to get permission from the federal government before making changes to their voting laws.

Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell says the purpose of the two is to build confidence in the nation’s voting system.

“We have to have faith in close elections and the best way to do that is not to suppress the vote but encourage and empower more people to vote in a safe and secure manner," she said.

Cantwell defended Washington’s vote-by-mail system as secure and said it has the support of a vast majority of the citizens in her state. She noted 84% of registered voters cast ballots during the 2020 presidential election.

Cantwell was one of several senators who spoke before a mostly-deserted chamber. Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley was another.

Votes on the two bills could come this week.