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Biden Link Between Passage of Voting Rights Bill & 2022 Midterm Vote Legitimacy Causes Meltdown

© REUTERS / JONATHAN ERNSTU.S. President Joe Biden attends a video conference with farmers, ranchers and meat processors to discuss meat and poultry supply chain issues, from an auditorium on the White House campus in Washington
U.S. President Joe Biden attends a video conference with farmers, ranchers and meat processors to discuss meat and poultry supply chain issues, from an auditorium on the White House campus in Washington - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.01.2022
US President Joe Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, have made what are considered by many to be controversial remarks allegedly tying the legitimacy of the 2022 midterms to the passage of Dem-sponsored voting rights bills, prompting a wave of criticism in US press and social media, with legal experts and others calling for clarification.
The Democratic Party-sponsored major voting rights bill was blocked in the upper chamber again on 19 January, while hours later a separate vote to change the filibuster rules in order to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act also failed.
Despite "a wonky maneuver", according to some, implemented by Schumer – who earlier refurbished a NASA bill to bring voting rights legislation directly to the Senate floor – the Dem-backed initiative was "doomed," according to Politico.
The GOP has repeatedly blocked the Dem-sponsored voting rights bills, with Republicans claiming the landmark voting legislation is a "federal takeover" that invites "massive fraud." Moderate Democratic senators, including Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, said they would not undermine the filibuster, a procedure which requires 60 votes to override so as to advance legislation in the chamber.
A girl waits in line as voters line up with their ballots at a polling station on election day in Harlem, New York, U.S., November 8, 2016 - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.01.2022
Dems Take Pains to Pass Voting Rights Bill as GOP Doubles Down on ID Laws
However, it's not the voting rights bill's failure that caused a social media meltdown, but US President Joe Biden's remarks delivered at a rare news conference Wednesday afternoon. Apparently, the president suggested that the upcoming 2022 midterm elections would not be legitimate if the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act failed to pass.
"Oh, yeah, I think it could easily be illegitimate … The increase in the prospect of [the 2022 election] being illegitimate is in proportion to not being able to get these reforms passed," Biden told the press ahead of the Congressional Wednesday vote on the bill and filibuster rules change.
Biden's remark appeared to bewilder CNN's Chris Cillizza, who called it "striking", given that voting rights legislation is "severely stalled" in the upper chamber. "If, one has to ask, major voting rights legislation is not passed before the 2022 midterms, does that mean the results - especially if Republicans win - are illegitimate?" the journalist wrote.

"Joe Biden dangerously claiming results of 2022 elections will be illegitimate unless Congress passes his election power grab," tweeted Josh Hawley, a Republican senator from Missouri.

"Two questions on Biden‘s belief that the 2022 election could be illegitimate if Congress doesn’t pass his federal elections takeover: 1. Does that mean the 2020 election was illegitimate? 2. Why is this any different than what Trump has said?" asked a Republican ex-representative for North Carolina, Mark Walker.
According to reports, follow-on comments by US Vice President Kamala Harris complicated the situation further. When asked by CNN's Manu Raju if the elections would be illegitimate if the Dem-sponsored voting bills don’t pass, the veep replied: "Let’s get these bills passed before we have that conversation."
In what appears to some to be damage control, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted clarification of the US president's remarks.
"Lets be clear," Psaki tweeted. "POTUS was not casting doubt on the legitimacy of the 2022 election. He was making the opposite point: In 2020, a record number of voters turned out in the face of a pandemic, and election officials made sure they could vote and have those votes counted. He was explaining that the results would be illegitimate if states do what the former president asked them to do after the 2020 election: toss out ballots and overturn results after the fact."
Psaki's explanation did not satisfy some, as Abigale Marone, Hawley's press secretary, responded: "Nope. Biden literally said the 2022 elections could 'easily be illegitimate' if his federal elections takeover didn't pass."

"To be clear when President Biden said the 2022 elections could be illegitimate the White House Press Secretary wants you to know he meant a different kind of illegitimate," tweeted former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, in an attempt to mock Psaki.

Legal experts quoted by The Wall Street Journal have suggested that Biden publicly clarify his position regarding the upcoming midterms, even after Psaki's tweets. The situation is complicated by the continuing political and cultural polarisation of America and a distrust by many in the GOP in the US election system, according to the media outlet.
A survey by MIT researchers found that, in 2020, just 22% of Republicans answering a questionnaire agreed that ballots were counted accurately nationwide, compared with 93% of Democrats. In 2016, however, 80% of Republicans responded to a telephone survey were confident of, and agreed with, the outcome of the vote, compared with 69% of Democrats.
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