Mississippi Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith Wednesday defended southern states’ decisions to ban electoral activity on Sundays, saying the action was justified because it is the Sabbath.
Democrats and Republicans clashed over a new sweeping bill, the For the People Act, that would set federal election standards as some states launch bills that would curtail certain types of voting following the November 2020 general election.
“I cannot speak for Georgia, but I can speak for Mississippi on why we would never do that on a Sunday or hold an election on a Sunday,” Hyde-Smith said in answer to questioning by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. during a Senate Rules and Administration Committee.
“This says the ‘United States of America in God we trust’,” she said holding up a dollar bill. “Etched in stone in front of the U.S. Senate chamber is ‘In God we trust.’ When you swore in all these witnesses, the last thing you said to them in your instructions, was ‘so help you God’,” the Mississippi senator continued.
“In God’s word in Exodus 28:18, it says, remember the Sabbath and keep it holy,” she concluded.
Some Democrats took to Twitter to voice their frustration over the senator’s justification for southern states placing limits on election activity, and what they view as an attempt to suppress voters.
“Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith quoting the Bible?” wrote South Carolina Democratic Chair Jamie Harrison.
“Matthew 18:19-20 ‘for where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them’,” he said quoting a different passage from the Bible. “Souls to the polls – Black churches go to the polls together on [Sunday], but you already know this.”
The Wednesday hearing turned contentious when Schumer condemned 300 bills filed in 43 states that seek to regulate voting practices, asking his Republican colleagues why they were “afraid of democracy.”
“Why, instead of trying to win voters over that you lost in the last election, are you trying to prevent them from voting?” Schumer asked the chamber, visibly frustrated.
“Shame, shame, shame. This is not the usual political argument. This goes to the core of our democracy,” he added.
But Republicans condemned the Democratic bill, with Ranking Member Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., charging the legislation is tantamount to a “federal takeover of the election process.”
Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., countered GOP concerns over increased chaos during elections.
“Chaos is what we’ve seen in the last years,” she told lawmakers before describing lengthy voter wait times in Arizona and restrictive measures in Georgia.
Tyler Olson contributed to this report.