WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A sweeping elections and voting rights bill collapsed Wednesday night on Capitol Hill, an effort by Democrats to pass a major overhaul before the November elections.
The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act would have created national automatic voter registration, allowed all voters to cast ballots by mail and weakened voter ID laws.
It also would have banned partisan gerrymandering and forced "dark money" groups to disclose their major donors.
Democrats needed to change the filibuster rules in order to pass the voting bill, but that failed following opposition from Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona.
The vote was 52-48 with Manchin and Sinema joining all GOP senators.
Democrats and civil rights groups argued that voting legislation was vital for protecting democracy.
The legislation was a response to what voting advocates said is an effort by Florida and other Republican-led states to make it harder for Black Americans and others to vote.
Lia Gaines of West Palm Beach was more than disappointed after the vote failed.
"I think this is a historic blow to civil rights," Gaines said.
Gaines, a current businesswoman and former NAACP president in West Palm Beach, said the lack of support from any Republicans and two key Democrats will have a lasting effect on the failed bill.
The measure would have set national standards on ballot access and early voting.
"Everyone knows that early voting, absentee, vote by mail and voter ID requirements are key and have a great impact on minority population's ability to vote and elect candidates of choice," Gaines said.
"It's never been easier to register to vote. It's never been easier to vote in Florida. You can vote early. Anyone can vote by mail," Rubio said in a Twitter video posted Wednesday.
Biden, Schumer and Pelosi don’t care about the real problems facing hard working everyday people— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 19, 2022
They are focused on fake voting rights crisis because it’s a pet issue for a very small but radical group pic.twitter.com/q3er7rCWHa
"They're pushing the federal takeover of state elections," Scott said. "Their ideas are too radical to win the approval of voters."
Moving forward, Gaines said this means getting a new message out among minority voters.
"I'm talking about motivating people to vote, and I'm also talking about putting pressure to bear on interests that would maybe make people see things in a different way," Gaines said.
Gaines said that pressure might be similar to the social pressures that occurred in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"We're going to have to use all the political tools and economic and social tools in terms of education to mobilize to get things to change," Gaines said. "That's the only way."
President Joe Biden reacted to Wednesday's vote by saying he was disappointed but "not deterred."