From the February 1 edition of CNN's New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman:
JOHN BERMAN (CO-HOST): Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing Democratic backlash after criticizing a House proposal to make Election Day a federal holiday. CNN senior political analyst John Avlon has our reality check.
JOHN AVLON (CNN POLITICAL ANALYST): If politicians can agree on one thing, it's usually that it's important to go out and vote. That's why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell drew fire and fury for mocking a House bill designed to open up our elections and increase voter participation.
MITCH MCCONNELL (SEN. MAJORITY LEADER): Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues are advertising it as a package of urgent measures to save American democracy. A power grab that's smelling more and more like exactly what it is.
AVLON: Election Day is a power grab, but not like blocking a vote on a Supreme Court nominee. It's a power grab by the people to hold their politicians accountable. And this is often an uphill battle because of the obstacles intentionally put in their way. These range from the rigged system of redistricting, to rollback of the Voting Rights Act, to archaic rules that tamp down turnout. And that's why the House bill seeks to make election day a federal holiday so more people can go out and vote. But McConnell really doesn't dig this idea.
MCCONNELL: A new, paid holiday for government workers. Just what America needs, another paid holiday and a bunch of government --
AVLON: OK. So two things. First, state workers in McConnell's native Kentucky already get presidential election days off. Second, this comes right after McConnell presided over the longest shutdown in government [in] American history, which left hundreds of thousands without pay for weeks. But could it be that McConnell doesn't want more people to vote because he sees increased participation as a Democratic plot? Well, it reminds me of an old Chris Rock line, quote, “They don't want you to vote. If they did we wouldn't vote on a Tuesday in November. You ever throw a party on a Tuesday? No. Because no one would come.” So why else would Chicago hold its mayoral elections in freezing February? Or why would Georgia close its polls at 7 p.m. and Kentucky at 6 when many folks are just getting off work?
Spoiler alert: It's about [trying] to make turnout smaller, more predictable, and more dependent upon hard partisans, which only further polarizes our politics. Now, you might be asking, why do we vote on Tuesday? Not a crazy question. It was from when farmers needed to take a day to take their horse and wagon into town and back and no one wanted to travel on the Sabbath. Today, those reasons don't really apply. This House bill includes plenty of other changes, like outlawing the purging of voter rolls, killing gerrymandering by requiring independent redistricting commissions, and automatic voter registration. Now McConnell is calling this the, quote, “Democratic Politician Protection Act.”
While McConnell has led Republicans in the Senate, there has been a steady erosion of voting rights. According to the Brennan Center, since 2010, no fewer than 25 states have put in place new voting restrictions. We should be making it easier for citizens to vote, not harder. And it shouldn't be a partisan issue. Ronald Reagan railed against redistricting, calling the right to vote, quote, “the crown jewel of American liberties.” So bottom line folks: More voting not less is good for America. Even Republicans. And that's your reality check.