Washington Rep. Kilmer says voting rules must pass the ‘grandma’ test

Jan 20, 2022, 10:05 AM
People gather for the annual D.C. Peace Walk: Change Happens with Good Hope and a Dream for Dr. Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 17, 2022, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
(Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Voting legislation that Democrats and civil rights groups argue is vital for protecting democracy has collapsed. President Joe Biden still believes, however, that pieces of the bill can pass in the future.

Ross: It’s time to start working on a plan B to protect voting rights

Congressman Derek Kilmer, who represents Washington’s 6th District, believes certain voting rights need to be enshrined nationwide, and it has to do with his grandmother, who recently passed away at the age of 108.

“She was an immigrant to this country, she became an American citizen at the age of 87,” Kilmer said. “And from that point, she never missed an election. But if you look at some of the rules that some of these states are putting in place, they don’t pass the ‘my grandma’ test.”

“If you say that to vote, you can’t have — as our state does — mail-in voting or no excuse mail-in voting, well, that doesn’t pass the my grandma test because, certainly in her later years, her ability to get to the polls would have been very constrained,” he explained.

In multiple states, Texas most recently, multiple polling locations have been eliminated, Kilmer said, which means that getting to cast your vote is less accessible, and when you do get there, lines are longer.

“If you’re in your 90s, waiting in long lines to vote is very difficult,” Kilmer said. “That doesn’t pass the my grandma test.”

In Georgia, there was a prohibition on people waiting in voting lines being given food or water. Again, Kilmer says, that doesn’t pass the test.

“Even if you look at things like requiring a government issued photo ID. Now, most states have at least some identification requirement, but if it’s a government issued photo ID, my grandma didn’t have a driver’s license, she never drove,” Kilmer said. “She hadn’t left the country in decades, so she didn’t have a passport. In our state, you can get a government issued photo ID for $54 — that’s a poll tax.”

“So you see in these states, barriers being put up in a way that unfortunately is very targeted, and that don’t pass the my grandma test, and they sure don’t pass the test when it comes to communities of color that for far too long in these jurisdictions have been denied the right to vote,” he added.

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Washington Rep. Kilmer says voting rules must pass the ‘grandma’ test