Our voting rights are under attack from conservative lawmakers all across the country. It’s time for the Senate to end the filibuster and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which will protect our right to vote for generations to come. We’ve already made progress by getting the bill passed in the House—now the fight turns to the Senate.
Since our country’s inception, far too many Americans have been discriminated against and disenfranchised at the ballot box due to racist barriers to voting. But this year, GOP-led voter suppression efforts have ramped up dramatically. In response to the overwhelming turnout in the 2020 election, Republican legislators in 18 states have passed 30 voter suppression laws aimed at making it harder to cast a ballot.
Why has this happened? Republican lawmakers have been successful in passing these bills partly due to a devastating 2013 Supreme Court decision that gutted the original 1965 Voting Rights Act, one of the biggest achievements of the Civil Rights Movement. The Supreme Court struck down the key protections in the Voting Rights Act because, essentially, it had been successful in reducing voter suppression. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put it at the time, the Court’s decision was “like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
The past decade has proved Justice Ginsburg right. We’ve seen early voting days cut, thousands of polling places closed, millions purged from the voter rolls, and long lines to vote stretching around the block in an intentional effort to stop Black and brown Americans from exercising their right to vote. This year has been even worse. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, more than 400 restrictive voting bills have been introduced across 49 states in 2021 alone.
The way forward is simple: We need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act into law.
Much like the original Voting Rights Act, the new Voting Rights Advancement Act is designed to stop racist voter suppression by putting a check on states with a history of discrimination and disenfranchisement before they can enact changes to voting processes. The legislation would once again give the Department of Justice the power to stop states from indiscriminately purging voters, closing polling places in predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods, implementing stringent voter ID laws with a discriminatory impact, or creating new political districts that dilute the voting power of people of color. It would not only stop discriminatory voter suppression before it happens, it would also create a stronger legal framework to reverse racist laws that suppress the vote if they have already been enacted.
Simply put, a new Voting Rights Act would prevent the future implementation of barriers to voting that impact communities of color the most.
The Path to Winning
We’ve already made progress towards realizing this goal: On August 24th, 2021, the House of Representatives passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act by a 219 to 212 vote.
Now, the fight turns to the Senate. Unfortunately, not a single Republican voted for the bill in the House. That means it’s up to us to use the momentum we have now to not only push our senators to support the bill, but also to ensure they don’t let a minority of Republican senators use the filibuster to stand in the way of its passage.
Together with the Freedom to Vote Act, a bill that would set national voting standards for all states, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act is our best chance at ensuring we all have a voice in the issues that matter the most to us.
Take a moment to keep the fight for voting rights going and make a call to your senators, urging them to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and not let the filibuster stop them.