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Voting rights suffered a major and unfortunate blow late Wednesday when needed legislation failed in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans succeeded in blocking the legislation.

But that doesn't mean the fight is over. Establishing a floor that protects the basic voting rights of American citizens is too important to let it become the victim of a procedural rule, in this case the filibuster that requires 60 votes to close debate. That rule, once employed rarely, has been weaponized to the point where it has created gridlock on far too many important issues.

Let's be clear about what is at stake here. In the years since the Supreme Court weakened the Civil Rights Act, enabling states to pass restrictive voting measures, many states have done just that. Last year alone, 19 states adopted dozens of laws that make it harder for average people to vote. How does restricting mail-in voting, limiting secure drop boxes and reducing polling days and hours serve the cause of election integrity? It doesn't. But it can make exercising that right a marathon of persistence.

And Republican legislatures aren't done. There's a new raft of laws coming. A bill in New Hampshire would let citizens remove election officials via lawsuit. A Missouri proposal would mandate an election audit on a petition signed by just 5% of registered voters.

After signing one of the most restrictive voting laws in the country, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis now wants to create his own election police force. In Montana, where voters enjoyed same-day registration for 18 years — and voted overwhelmingly against a repeal attempt in 2014 — Republicans last year enacted a legislative repeal that stripped them of that right. Iowa last year slashed its early voting period by a third, shortened polling hours and imposed restrictions on absentee balloting.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has been a leader in the fight to pass voting rights in the Senate, told an editorial writer that Americans deserve to have a minimum standard of voting rights that does not change wildly from state to state. "What we're seeing now is ridiculous," she said. "We need to establish basic protections here."

Among the provisions Republican senators apparently found too radical: no excuses mail-in voting, same-day voter registration, online registration, two weeks of early voting that includes evenings and weekends, and secure drop boxes for voters to deposit ballots.

This is the barest minimum of what Americans should be able to expect, no matter what state they are in. It is not, as some Republican senators have contended, a "federal takeover" any more than previous voting rights acts were. Congress has the right and the responsibility to secure fair federal elections. It's why we no longer have Jim Crow relics such as poll taxes, literacy tests or clauses that granted the right to vote only if one's grandfather had it.

The tactics are different now, but the net effect is the same: fewer voters rather than more.

Klobuchar has said this is a fight that will continue, and it should, whether it comes in sweeping legislation or piece by hard-won piece. Quoting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Klobuchar said that "disappointment is finite, but hope is infinite. We will fight on."

There are some voting proposals that may yet provide a bit of common ground. One is revising the Electoral Count Act, a poorly written piece of legislation from 1887 that became the basis for a cockamamie scheme by the former president to urge then-Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to certify the 2020 election results. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the act is "flawed" and should be shored up.

Klobuchar said that is important, but noted that "it would in no way substitute for the important protections we need in voting rights. We are one nation. Every vote should count and be counted. I support the electoral count reform act. But it doesn't matter if votes are properly counted if you cannot cast your vote in the first place." Next, Klobuchar said, will be a push for voter rights at the state level. In the meantime, she said, the Justice Department will pursue legal avenues to protect voter rights.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon told an editorial writer that work remains to be done even in Minnesota, with its enviable top turnout among states. "I've done a lot of thinking about the road from here," he said. "We need a federal floor beneath which no state can sink. We need protections for election workers, because threats against them are on the rise even in Minnesota."

Simon said among other things, he will be looking to make permanent the 14-day counting period adopted for the 2020 election amid the pandemic. "Counties are very worried about having to go back to seven days," Simon said. Mail-in voting, he said, rose from 25% in 2018 to 58% in 2020.

Minnesota has shown that it is possible to hold elections that have both integrity and inclusivity. Other states should do the same.