Sen. Angus King of Maine went on national television Wednesday night on the eve of what is expected to be a long and historic debate on voting rights legislation to say that democracy is at risk if the legislation is not passed by the Senate.

In an interview with MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace, King said Americans overwhelmingly support voter rights legislation and indicated that he would be open to changing the Senate filibuster rule if it could ensure passage of voting rights legislation.

“And here is one of the ironies. This bill we’re going to be debating is bipartisan everywhere but in the U.S. Senate. There was just a poll released today, over 60 percent of the American people want easy mail-in voting. They want absentee voting. They want the election day to be a holiday,” King told Wallace. “They support all the provisions of the bill that we’re talking about. These are Democrats and Republicans. But it’s a totally partisan effort here in the Senate to block (passage).”

King appeared Tuesday with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to talk about the importance of passing voting rights legislation in spite of the lack of support from Republicans. King, an independent, caucuses with Democrats.

“We’ve been working on this for a year, and we’ve had virtually no reach out (from Republicans), no discussion of dealing with these issues that are in the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act,” King said. “I believe that the vote taken this week is the most important vote that I will ever take in my life. Not because of an issue, but because of the structure of democracy itself.

“Democracy is fragile, it’s unusual. The great British historian Arnold Toynbee said, ‘civilizations commit suicide, they’re not murdered.’ I don’t want to see that happen in the United States of America.”

Lacking the votes to change filibuster rules, Senate Democrats are pushing ahead with a new strategy on their sweeping voting and elections legislation: launching a debate short of assurance of a vote in order to force a public showdown over the issue, The Associated Press reported. By setting up a debate, Schumer will achieve the Democrats’ goal of shining a spotlight that spurs senators to say where they stand. The floor debate could stretch for days and carry echoes of civil rights battles a generation ago that led to some of the most famous filibusters in Senate history.

Democrats have vowed to counteract a wave of restrictive new state voting laws inspired by former President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election. But after an initial flurry of activity, the Democrats’ efforts have stalled in the narrowly divided Senate, where they lack the 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster, leading to their calls for a rule change.

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