A record 159 million Americans turned out to vote in 2020. We should celebrate! Instead, 43 states are in the process of enacting over 250 voter restriction bills that will make it harder for young, elderly, and voters of color to make their voices heard. Georgia was only the first. It’s up to Congress now to pass the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act to protect every Americans’ right to vote.
For the People
Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley has teamed up with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) introducing S.1., the For the People Act— comprehensive reforms that would end special-interest corruption of our politics and make government work for the people.
The landmark legislation—companion legislation to H.R. 1, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 3—aims to restore the promise of American democracy by guaranteeing every American citizen full access to the ballot by addressing voter intimidation and suppression, which are among the biggest examples of systemic racism in America; ending the corrupting power of dark money in our campaigns; and putting an end to gerrymandering. In addition, it strengthens ethics laws to ensure that public servants work for the public interest.
“Every American—regardless of the color of their skin, where they live, or how much money they have—deserves a seat at the table and an equal voice in their government,” said Merkley. “If you really believe in the vision of our republic, you believe in voter empowerment and not voter suppression.”
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act. Originally called the Voting Rights Advancement Act was renamed for the late civil rights icon and congressman following his death, looks to restore the preclearance formula to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The VRA is widely regarded as the single most effective piece of civil rights legislation in our nation’s history. As recently as 2006 it won reauthorization with overwhelming bipartisan support. The law allowed federal officials and courts to block discriminatory changes in voting rules in states with a history of voting rights violations. It blocked 86 attempts to subvert
voting rights between 1998 and 2013 from becoming law. Until the Supreme Court stuck it down in 2013 as no longer needed. We’re now seeing the assault on voting rights to disenfranchise voters, just as lawmakers did before the original Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.
Corporate America begins to take a stand. They’ve done this before in 2006; helping to push reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act. Pressure is mounting on leading companies in Texas, Arizona and other states, particularly after Major League Baseball’s decision to move the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta. A joint statement from executives at nearly 200 companies, including HP, Microsoft, PayPal, Target, Twitter, Uber took aim at state legislation “threatening to make voting more difficult” and said “elections are not improved” when lawmakers impose new barriers to voting. As customers and employees, we can certainly encourage this kind of action. More info at CivicAlliance.com.
You can make a difference, stay engaged and support democracy.
Make calls, write Letters to the Editor, share the message. These and many other organizations are working now to protect the vote, pass For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and fix the filibuster.
Common Cause www.commoncause.org
Center for Common Ground
www.centerforcommonground.org/take-action Fair Fight Action www.fairfight.com
Black Voters Matter blackvotersmatterfund.org Voting Rights Alliance www.votingrightsalliance.org