Mitt Romney on voting rights bill: President Joe Biden, Democrats venturing into 'deep hysteria'

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 27, 2020. On Tuesday, Romney decried Democratic proposals for voting reform.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 27, 2020. On Tuesday, Romney decried Democratic proposals for voting reform. (Susan Walsh, Associated Press)


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WASHINGTON — Sen. Mitt Romney expressed his opposition to the Democrats' voting rights bill Tuesday, including saying those who favor voter identification aren't racist.

Referencing President Joe Biden's speech on getting rid of the Senate filibuster to clear a path for the sweeping legislation in Atlanta last week, the Utah Republican said Biden and the Democrats have "ventured into deep hysteria."

As he did on NBC's "Meet the Press" this past Sunday, Romney said Democrats plowed ahead on elections reform with no input from Republicans, then are "shocked, shocked" that the GOP won't support it.

"Now I'd note that political overstatement and hyperbole may be relatively common and they are often excused, but the president and some of my Democratic colleagues have ventured deep into hysteria," Romney said in an evening speech on the Senate floor.

"Their cataclysmic predictions for failing to support their entirely partisan election reform — worked out entirely by themselves without any input whatsoever from any single person on my side of the aisle — are far beyond the pale."

On Sunday, Romney said he is willing to work with Democrats on voting rights but "I never got a call on that from the White House."

Democrats, he said, are correct to call out former President Donald Trump's "big lie" about the 2020 election.

"But in the same spirit of honesty, they should not engage in a similar lie that Republicans across the country are making it much harder for minorities to vote, and thus that the federal government must urgently displace centuries of constitutional practice that gives states primary control over elections," Romney said.

Saying it has been pointed out many times before, Romney said it is easier for minorities to vote in Georgia than it is in Biden's home state of Delaware and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's home state of New York.

In Georgia, there are more days of early voting and there is no-excuse absentee voting by mail, he said. Democrats decry Georgia's prohibition of political activists approaching voters in line with drinks of water, but the same prohibition exists in New York to keep voters from being harassed, he said.

"To be clear, I want an election system that allows every eligible citizen in every state to be able to exercise their right to vote in every single election," Romney said.

And "putting hysteria" aside, Romney said he doesn't support the Democrats' bill because it weakens voter ID, makes it easier to cheat accommodating unmonitored vote collection boxes and opens the gates to a flood of pre- and post-election lawsuits. He also said he doesn't favor federal funding for campaigns or requiring states to allow felons to vote.

Romney said the Democrats' bill is not focused on the real threat, which he says is the corruption of the counting of the ballots, the certification of elections and the Congressional provisions for accepting and counting a slate of electors.

"This is where the apparent conspirators were focused in their attempt in the last election to subvert democracy and prevent the peaceful transfer of power," he said.

Romney ended his remarks by again taking issue with Biden asking how elected officials would want to be remembered when it comes to voting rights.

"Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?" the president said.

Romney said people who don't want federal funding of campaigns aren't Bull Connor, an Alabama Democrat who strongly opposed the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He said people who insist that vote drop boxes be monitored aren't Jefferson Davis, the president of the confederate states.

Also, in response to Biden's Atlanta speech, Romney last week condemned the president for saying the goal of some Republicans is to "turn the will of the voters into a mere suggestion."

"And so President Biden goes down the same tragic road taken by President Trump, casting doubt on the reliability of American elections," Romney said. "This is a sad, sad day. I expected more of President Biden who came into office with a stated goal of bringing the country together."

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Dennis Romboy
Dennis Romboy is an editor and reporter for the Deseret News. He has covered a variety of beats over the years, including state and local government, social issues and courts. A Utah native, Romboy earned a degree in journalism from the University of Utah. He enjoys cycling, snowboarding and running.

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