U.S. Senator Mark Warner, D – Alexandria, believes there is an “absolute urgent need for Congress to step up and put in place basic federal protections” for America’s voting process.
During a remote interview, Warner said the nation has seen “state after state start to roll back access to the ballot box” and shorten voting times. Certain states, like Georgia, are giving the responsibility of overseeing and certifying vote counts to partisan entities rather than non- or bi-partisan bodies.
Should such practices be allowed to spread, “that would be a recipe for disaster,” and would mean the very structure of democracy “could be up for grabs,” he said.
“That is not good for America,” Warner cautioned. “I still remember when expanding voting rights was a bipartisan issue. That is not the case in today’s United States Senate.”
Virginia saw a 25 percent increase in voter participation in 2021 over 2017’s election, which “actually helped elect a Republican, governor-elect Glenn Youngkin,” Warner said. Increased voter participation is good, not for a particular political party, but for democracy as a whole.
Another challenge to the nation’s democracy stems from former President Donald Trump’s claims about voter fraud in the last presidential election.
“Too many of our fellow Americans have endorsed the Trump big lie about voting fraud,” Warner said. “Too many people still believe that lie,” which ultimately led to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
Warner, who is the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said investigations into the events of Jan. 6 are ongoing but, “I do think we’ve made progress.”
“I think there’s still a lot of questions about, particularly, House members, about how they were involved in the insurrection,” Warner said, including the targeting of the office of the parliamentarian’s office, where the ballots were kept.
“I still find it chilling that the parliamentarian’s office … was totally trashed in a way that no other office was trashed in the Capitol and there was clearly some evidence that people were being shown the parliamentarian’s office by so-called ‘tour groups’ in the days leading up to January 6,” he said, an commended that office’s staff for protecting the electoral votes that day.
Since the riot, Warner said, “we’ve made record investments in additional training and additional hiring of the Capitol Police,” and enabled the police force to call in the National Guard “if they need additional help.”