tv U.S. Senate Sens. Scott Booker on Voting Rights CSPAN January 20, 2022 3:07am-3:36am EST
talking to them in their elections, to have ours be a democracy without masks, without subterfuge and without dark money. i yield the floor. mr. schumer: would my colleague yield for pa brief comment? -- for a brief comment? mr. whitehouse: gladly. mr. schumer: i want to thank my colleague, this is very much part of our bill, it is universally or virtually universally supported and it is one of the great scourges of our politics. if we don't move forward on these bills, we're not going to be able to do this because we will not get the kind of bipartisan cooperation on this horrible horrible situation that all of us agree should be changed. i want to thank him for his amazing efforts over
the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. scott: thank you, mr. president, for -- madam president for the opportunity to talk about something important to all americans and especially from americans from the deep south who happen to look like me. as i listened to the president talk about stopping something that he called jim crow 2.0, i found irritation rising in my souls. as i keep hearing the references to jim crow, i ask myself how many americans understand what jim crow was. i am so thankful -- thankful that we are not living in those days, but just for those who don't appreciate the jim crow that was, it was a time when my grandfather born in 1921 would
experience that if he were still alive. he could tell stories of the jim crow era. an era for a black person to vote, you can -- you had to pass a literacy test. it would be a test just not on reading, it was a test, do you know who your governor was 20 years before you were getting ready to vote. it was would include the threat of being lynched, literally killed because those in power wanted to stop black folks from realizing and fully participating in the greatest nation on earth and exercising what i believe is a fundamental responsibility an right of americans the right to vote. it would include beatings and the power of intimidation, the loss of your job if you dared to show up to vote. and so when i hear my president
and your president and the president of these united states a week or so ago talk about jim crow 2.0 and using it as the poster child of this new jim crow south being the georgia voting law, i rushed to read the law one more time so that i could understand what in the world is he talking about. i'm here this morning, this afternoon because i had a conversation with the south carolina naacp about two hours ago and they enkiewdged me to come to -- encouraged me to come to the floor and make my comments as public as possible so people would understand what i have read in the georgia law and compare it to the jim crow south. so what do we know about the georgia law, and i read the law. what we know is that the controversy that the president spoke about and the controversy
we heard senators speak about, it is illegal to get water while waiting to vote. now, that claim has been proven false. it is not illegal to get water while waiting in line, and it's false. the only time you can't get water while waiting in line to vote, according to georgia law, is someone campaigning for someone -- campaigning for someone, you can't bring them water, if you're an election worker, you can bring them water. that is false. if that is the threshold of the new jim crow era, it looks nothing like the past. however, even that is false. what else is in that georgia law that is supposedly the poster child of voter suppression? it allows for early voting to include now the souls to the polls where you have sundays
where you can vote early. in fact, 17 days of early voting. more early voting than the president's own home state or new york. it allows for mail-in ballots without an excuse. the same thing that was turned down by the voters in new york. no excuse, on-demand mail-in ballots is now the law in georgia. new drop boxes. at pre-pandemic it was ill illegal to have a drop box in georgia, now it is legal to have a drop box in georgia and voter i.d., supported by 60% of african american, 60% of hispanics, and 60% or more of the majority population. after going through point by point and realizing in south carolina that minority turnout was stronger than the
overall turnout in south carolina, and two out of three african americans senators in the united states senate today represent those southern states. it's hard it -- hard to again nye -- deny progress that two out of the three come from the southern states that people say are the places where african american -- african american votes are being suppressed. not to mention the fact that 2020 was a banner year for minority participation in the greatest nation on earth from a voting perspective, and that is, my friends, good news. the democrats' proposal would allow for the supporters of bernie sanders and their tax dollars to go into my reelection account.
i oppose that. it would undermine voter i.d. laws across our country. i oppose that. it puts unaccountable bureaucrats in charge of our elections. americans oppose that. and walking in on the day of the election, registering to vote without any verification is something i, too, oppose. and so, madam president, when i think about the important issue of voting and when i think about the issue of voter suppression, it lands on my front porch. because as a guy who has voted in the deep south all my life, as a person who was born in 1965 with a mama who understands racism, discrimination, and separate and not equal, the grandfather who i took to vote
and helped him cast his vote because he was unable to read, to have a conversation in a narrative that is blatantly false is offensive not just to me or southern americans but offensive to millions of americans who fought, bled, and died for the right to vote. so if we're going to have an honest conversation about the right to vote, let's engage in that based on the facts of the laws that are being passed, not the rhetoric surrounding those laws, where it looks like power is more important than people. i'll close with this. the civil war of this nation started in my hometown. one of the most powerful and popular senators in the history of america was strom thurmond.
2010 when i ran for congress. i ran for congress in the place where the civil war started, and i ran for congress in a republican primary against the son of strom thurmond. i won that race not merely because of would i am but because of who we have become as a nation. the evolution of the hearts of america and the hearts of southerners could not be more clear on a day when the son of a single mother, mired in poverty, runs against the son of one of the most famous senators in the history of the country and comes out victorious. i would love for us to have a
conversation about what we're doing for americans as opposed to this negative false narrative of what is happening to america. thank you, madam president. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. booker: i have deep and tremendous respect for my friend from south carolina. i'm not a senator from the south, but my family hails from the south, from monroe, louisiana, to alabama, to north carolina. i know my roots and i know the challenges of jim crow and thank god we are not in a time of jim crow. the history that my friend talked to i know i know this history and i know my colleagues in the senate know this history. we're all not blind to what
happened in terms of racial oppression going back to the founding of this nation. the constitution the people have been waving around, it's hard not to read that and not see that many of the compromises were based upon an acquiescence to that original sin of this nation, slavery. we know the violence of what he said and talked about. i'm frustrated that we can agree that there has been overwrought language on both sides of the political aisle around this issue, but we should be focusing in on the facts. i have a hard time listening to people that want to talk about this issue and don't talk about facts.
in the united states today, it is more difficult for the average african american to vote than the average white american. that is not rhetoric. that is fact. we know that black voters on average are forced to wait in line twice as long as white voters. we began this session today swearing an oath to that flag saying that this would be a nation of liberty and justice for all. where is the justice in a nation that there is on average for a black person twice as long to vote? it's factual. but let's keep going because i heard my colleague speak. during the 2016 presidential election, residents of entirely black neighborhoods waited to vote -- they were 74% more
likely to spend 30 minutes at their polling place relative to entirely white neighborhoods. that's a fact. similar racial disparities were observed right before the pandemic. in the 2018 midterm elections a brennan center report found that latino voters waited almost 46% longer than white voters. and black voters about 45%. the report also found that latino and black voters were more likely than white voters to wait in the longest of lines on election day. you could go into state after state and you will see who waits factually on longer lines. georgia. are we going to reduce this to just being about water? i find that law offensive but that's not the thing that offends me most.
you want to know what's going on in georgia right now? they have a historical pattern of dwindling polling places in the diverse areas with some voters in georgia waiting up to ten hours in predominantly black neighborhoods. think about this for a second. you want to talk about voter suppression? you're working a job. you're taking care of young kids. and you're going to give up a day's salary in georgia to vote? you want to talk about a modern day poll tax? and my friends on the other side are saying that race is not an issue here? i'm going to continue with facts because i was flabbergasted that someone could stand up here and say there's not a different experience for blacks and whites
for voting. i'm just going to continue to read the facts. since vel by v. holder that eviscerated the voting rights act that people like goodman, cheney died for, black voters in georgia have faced disproportionately longer lines and fewer polling places. the average number of voters per polling place have grown 40% in diverse atlanta metro since 2012 and voters in black neighborhoods waited nearly ten times as long on average after polling places were closed in neighborhoods. i'm looking for an amen from my colleague from georgia. i mean, in what country are we where a certain minority in
predominantly minority communities has to wait ten times as long? and so when you read -- and i've heard my colleagues read these laws. they read well, what's wrong with having no drop boxes because hey, we didn't have them before the pandemic? what's wrong with not having that many days to vote by mail? what's wrong with these things is obvious because they're not designed for voter protection. they're not designed to help voters have more access to the polls. they are designed to suppress the vote and create these longer lines. that is the obvious result. and if you can't see that, i'm flabbergasted. i'm sorry, it's hard. this is not my turn to speak and forgive me, to my colleagues, but i am flabbergasted that the republican party, the party of
the 14th amendment, the party that once fought for equal access to the polls is now creating this ruse that every 19 states, that the states that are passing these laws, 19 states, this is not about voter protection. donald trump's own person said the last election was the safest, most secure election in american history. this is not about in-person voter fraud. study after study has shown that you're more likely to be struck by lightning. this is about lies. i'm sorry, this is about lies and they're targeting groups. i'm going to go on with the facts. but i just want to talk about students for a second. i heard senator jon tester.
i heard my colleagues from new hampshire. and they're not hiding the ball, folks. they're not -- they're not trying to tell us oh, we're concerned about it. as early as 2011 state republican house speaker at the time in new hampshire, senators, you know william o'brien? can i gel a hallelujah there? promised to clamp down on unrestricted voting by students calling them kids voting liberal. voting their feelings with no life experience. i hear what you're saying that this is -- all these laws ares f you start looking at the legislative record, you see groups are being targeted in this country. polling places are diminishing on college campuses. voter i.d. laws are being
created so complex in midwestern states that they're saying you can't use a four-year i.d. it's got to be a two-year i.d. that's some of the laws that are being passed. can somebody be witness on that. and i hear this rhetoric where people pull out one law. well look at this law. this is just about shrinking the days or this is so innocuous on its face. and i know there are people at home, thinking to myself hey, that doesn't sound like a big deal. maybe republicans have a point. no. let's return to the facts. i'm going to go to texas because i heard the senator from texas accuse this body of creating rhetoric that was divisive. you want to know what's divisive to a country that's -- that says e. pluribus unum above where the presiding person is? you want to know what is
divisive? is telling people in the congresswoman's state that if you live in a predominantly minority area, we're going to remove polling places and change laws so that black folks disproportionately are waiting five, ten, 15 times longer. facts. the burden of long lines in polling places, closures in texas and the post-shelby county area often falls disproportionately on black and latino voters. congresswoman, approximately 750 sites texas has closed since shelby v. holder. 542 were in the 50 counties with the fastest growing black and latino populations. don't lecture me about jim crow.
i know this is not 1965. that's what makes me so outraged. it's 2022. and they're blatantly removing more polling places from the counties where black and latinos are overrepresented. i'm not making that up. that is a fact. i'm not going to stop, because i'm tired of hearing that this does not have to do about singling out certain populations in our country -- students, native americans, -- and not others. i'm not accusing anybody. please, let's not throw around the defense where we crouch in defensive postures. i'm not accusing anybody of being racist. i'm just speaking to the facts in our country that i know motivate everybody here.
99 of my colleagues know it is wrong to create barriers for some populations and not others, under the guise of a lie that there's a voter security problem. let me continue. i'm sorry, congresswoman, to keep talking about texas. in the presidential primary on march 3, voters at the historically black texas southern university in houston waited not an hour, not two hours, not three, four, five, waited six hours. at a poll of texas voters conducted just in 2020 election, underscored the disparity of nonwhite voters facing casting their ballots. i'm sorry, senator kaine, you were very good when you talked about that sign of 98% of people happy. i sat here stunned. i was wondering who they were
polling. because they were not polling black and latino voters in texas when they did that. let me give you the facts. 48% of black voters and 55% of latino voters in texas found it easy to vote. but that leaves a lot of folks that didn't think it was easy. white voters actually 65% think it's easy to vote. everybody's not happy. people who wassity in six-hour -- who wait in six-hour lines are not happy. i just want to give a couple more facts. let's go to my dad's home state, north carolina, was one of the states most affected by poll closures. there were 158 fewer polling places in 40 counties with large black communities, and african
american voter participation dropped 16%. why? well, my friend bennet said this, we still live in a country where the economic disparities between blacks and whites is what it was in the 1960's. and so, if you're a black struggling family and your option to vote means standing in line for ten hours compared to predominantly white counties where the wait is longer, you don't go vote. and that's not just black folks. the stories about disabled voters, with about one in seven or one in eight pointing out it's hard for them to vote because of physical impediments. that's discriminatory against them. that doesn't mean people here are anti-disabled. we're not throwing those labels around. i'm just talking about the facts. and so, i just want my
colleagues to know that i can pull story after story of these states, the 19 that are passing these laws, if you pull them out and want to read them absent context, you're going to try to obscure the larger picture that's going on in our nation, is that we are seeing entirely republican legislatures, entirely republican legislatures passing laws that are disproportionately impacting certain groups by the facts. and so i want to close with this, because i love what -- on the march across the edmund pettus bridge they were stopped, beaten back. they tried to go again with king. again blocked by alabama state troopers. but they finally got to their destination to protest voting rights. i love what king said there. he talked about those people
whose hearts were discouraged because they hadn't passed voting rights. and i know there's going to be a lot of people this day that feel that kind of discouragement. but reverend warnock, king gave one of his best speeches that day, where he asked people how long are we going to have to wait? not long. because the truth, i'm thinking about the lies we're hearing now, the big lies, the lies of in-person voting, where the truth crushed to the earth will rise again. don't lie and say there's not a disparate voting reality for blacks and whites in this country right now. the facts speak differently. don't lie and say that these laws are not being done in a way to make it harder for students to vote. don't lie and say that we are a nation that should be doing more to ease access as opposed to putting up more barriers, because to go on more barriers
is anti-democratic. those lies will not live forever. i do believe still that the arc of the -- the arc of the moral universe is long and bends toward justice. i still believe the best of our democracy will come out if people do not give up and are not discouraged. i ask my colleagues right now to continue on the floor today, to tip to tell the -- to continue to tell the truth of what's happening in your states, to continue telling the truth of what's happening in our nation. because we will win this fight. i don't know how long it will take, but that will be determined by how dedicated we are to the principles of this democracy. we must live in a nation where everyone is equal, not in rhetoric or in slogan or in salutes, but everyone is equal in the experience they have to participating in democracy. the vote is the bedrock of our
nation, is the foundation of the country, and it does have cracks that need our repair. whether we get down on our knees in prayer or we stand tall, let's continue the work of this democracy so that freedom and justice does roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream. forgive me, my colleagues, for speaking well beyond my time, and i apologize if i dem on straichted too much emotion. thank you, president. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: thank you, madam president. confidence in our elections is vital to self-governance, and voting is a fundamental right. this is something that democrats and republicans can agree on. article 1, section 4 of the constitution states that, quote, times, places, and manners, unquote, of congressional elections, quote, shall be proscribed by the states. over the last year, my deat