Pennsylvania Democrats Recall January 6 to Push Legislative Agenda, Slam Election Integrity Legislation


Democrats on Thursday in Pennsylvania and beyond recalled January 6, 2021, D.C-Capitol riot as an occasion to denounce voter-ID proposals and urge progressive reforms.

“Here’s the truth,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told an online audience at a panel hosted by leftist organizations including Better PA and the New Pennsylvania Project. “You can draw a straight line between the lies [and former President Donald Trump’s post-2020-election] litigation to the events of January the sixth. And now, you can continue that straight line to voter-suppression laws that are being passed by Republicans in state houses across the country.” 

Shapiro rebuked Republican state lawmakers for offering “dozens” of what he calls “voter-suppression” bills, going so far as to say that their authors “believe that certain people, especially our black and brown community members, don’t count and shouldn’t be heard in the [electoral] conversation.”

The attorney general went on to insist that appreciating the events of January 6 should culminate in the passage of leftist federal legislation like the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. He further advocated for enacting either automatic voter registration or Election-Day voter registration in Pennsylvania. 

Election-Day registration is one component of legislation proposed by State Rep. Joanna McClinton (Philadelphia), who yesterday urged her bill’s passage, using the Jan.-6 turmoil as pretext. 

McClinton’s measure would furthermore establish a 15-day period of early in-person voting, permit voters to “cure” errors on their submitted ballots, expand dropbox availability for absentee voting, allow three weeks of pre-canvassing of mail-in ballots, permit 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote and mandate that colleges and universities set up voter-registration offices.

“We have a responsibility to uphold, not undermine, our democracy,” McClinton said in a statement. “My proposal is not about erecting barriers, accessing sensitive information from Pennsylvanians, or suppressing voter turnout—specifically in our black and brown communities. It is about investing in ways to strengthen our election process that benefits everyone.”

While Pennsylvania lawmakers have written many bills on election integrity, the flagship legislation condemned by the likes of Shapiro and McClinton has been the Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protection Act. Sponsored by House State Government Chair Seth Grove (R-PA-York), this measure would introduce a photo-identification requirement for voting in the Keystone State but also features several provisions to ease access to voting.

An earlier version of the Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protection Act passed the Pennsylvania legislature last June with the support of many lawmakers on both sides of Trump’s efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 election in court. It also won the support of a Democratic representative, Frank Burns (Johnstown). 

Keystone-State Democrats’ narrative about a direct link between the capitol disturbance a year ago and GOP-sponsored election-security legislation that has emerged since was echoed on the national level. In remarks at Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C., President Joe Biden decried the Jan.-6 riot and quickly proceeded to discourage Republican election reforms and encourage passage of the federal bills to which Shapiro alluded in his oration.

“The former president and his supporters have decided that the only way for them to win is to suppress your vote and to subvert our elections,” Biden said. “It’s wrong, it’s undemocratic and, frankly, it’s un-American.” 

Biden’s conflation of the sentiment behind the riot with Republicans’ reluctance to slacken election security elicited jeers among right-leaning media figures.

“What gets me is that they’re [Democrats] not actually talking about [Jan. 6] as a terrible day,” Commentary executive editor Abe Greenwald observed on his magazine’s podcast yesterday. “They’re taking about it as a usable day, as a kind of gift, and I think transparently so. Yeah, on the surface it’s all about how terrible it is; but beneath the surface there’s a savoring quality here that cannot be missed and I find that despicable in its cynicism.”

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Josh Shapiro” by Governor Tom Wolf CC BY 2.0. Photo “Rep. Joanna McClinton” by Joanna McClinton. Background Photo “January 6” by Tyler Merbler CC BY 2.0.



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