Saving American Elections by Protecting Voting Rights
The right to vote is core to American democracy—and free citizens know that.
That is why the 2020 federal election drew the United States’ highest voter turnout in more than a century, breaking records despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Lawmakers in many states supported Americans' eagerness to vote by making it easier for eligible voters to cast their ballots. Between January 1 and September 27, at least 25 states enacted 62 laws with provisions that expand voting access, especially through mail-in ballots.
Still, the vote is under attack in many parts of the country. In 2021, 19 states enacted 33 laws that will make it harder for Americans to vote. In Georgia, citizens can now be charged with a crime for handing out water or snacks to voters waiting in line at the polls, even at churches. In Iowa and Kansas, neighbors and social workers can be arrested for returning ballots on behalf of voters with disabilities, who may need assistance. And in Texas, election officials could face criminal prosecution if they encourage voters to request mail ballots, even if they are elderly and are at high risk of COVID-19 complications.
To ensure the right to vote remains intact–and to protect equal access for the elderly, veterans, and hourly wage workers–federal lawmakers are taking action. Two key pieces of legislation are now under consideration by Congress: H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and Freedom to Vote Act.
John Lewis Voting Rights Act
increases government transparency by requiring reasonable public notice for changes to voting policies and rules;
ensures fair chance to vote by outlawing early poll closures that discriminate against working class;
establishes federal review of any changes to voting rules that could discriminate against voters based on race or background, giving voters an equal voice nationwide.
The Freedom to Vote Act
restores election integrity by requiring states to conduct post-election audits for federal elections;
establishes Election Day as a federal holiday so working Americans can vote;
counters dark money influence by requiring all campaigns to disclose fundraising and spending.
These laws are steeped in our shared American values: freedom, patriotism, and the American Dream. They hold us all to the highest standards, not by federalizing elections, but by creating additional checks and balances to ensure that new laws do not infringe against our God-given rights. These changes are not about strengthening the federal government's control; they are about holding states accountable to the 15th Amendment.
As Senators prepare to vote on voting rights bills, they should remember that they were elected to serve the will of the people, not the other way around. They are not elected to filibuster. They are elected to enact the will of the American people and at least 64% of Americans support these bills. And when a politician says they want to make it harder for certain citizens to vote, we do not believe the reason is to support democracy.