Voting is a family tradition for me. It’s something I used to do with my grandfather. Now it’s something I do with my two boys.
Every time I’m in the voting booth with my sons, I feel my grandfather’s legacy. He faced the burden of Jim Crow voter suppression first hand. He shared these raw, painful memories with me when he was alive.
I know deep down that I never want my sons to face these burdens. I wish these were just stories for them – powerful lessons from a history that will never repeat itself.
But the story East is repeated throughout the country.
And this does not happen by chance. Ronna McDaniel, Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell presided over the GOP’s total abandonment of democracy and voting rights.
Republican lawmakers are waging a national campaign to suppress votes and undermine our democracy. They’ve introduced hundreds of voter suppression bills and nearly two dozen proud, big-lie-believing Republicans are running for secretary of state.
But Democrats — or anyone who considers themselves a patriot — cannot give up the right to vote and free elections. Republicans may have abandoned these values because they find them politically inconvenient, but we consider them fundamental to our democracy. This is why I am so committed to protecting the sacred right to vote. This is why the DNC is not done fighting.
Our suffrage movement has seen setbacks before, but that has never stopped us.
Take, for example, the namesake of the Voting Rights Bill: John Lewis.
When he and his fellow protesters were beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge by Sheriff Jim Clark and his gang on that Bloody Sunday, they didn’t give up. They showed up two days later and kept walking.
My inspiration comes from John Lewis, and my motivation to protect my boys from the burdens of the past is stronger than ever.
So under my direction, the DNC will continue to work.
Voting rights legislation is still urgently needed, and I am fighting like hell to expand our majorities in 2022 to give President Joe Biden the votes he needs in Congress.
But we are not going to sit idly by while we wait. The DNC is already acting aggressively to limit the effects of Republican voter suppression in the medium term and beyond.
With a historic $25 million investment in our I Will Vote initiative, announced by Vice President Kamala Harris last summer, we have already built our largest voter protection team.
In the past, voter protection staff were hired closer to Election Day to focus on getting the vote and recounts. With this new investment, we now have a year-round voter protection presence.
We also invest in voter protection personnel for coordinated campaigns. In places like Michigan and Arizona, where we’ve seen some of the worst voter suppression efforts by Republican legislatures, Democrats are funding staff and programs to fight back.
And through our campaign readiness project, we worked with our sister committees to recruit and train voter protection personnel across the country.
We work with local Democrats in all 57 states and territories and adapt our approach to unique circumstances on the ground. In places that don’t yet have voter protection personnel, we help Democrats customize and scale voter protection programs that meet their needs.
Because we started so early, we are already seeing results. Democratic voter protection staff played a key role in California’s recall election. In Texas, Democratic voter protection teams are helping voters comply with tough new rules. In New Hampshire, we are fighting against attempts to eliminate voting machines.
In addition to our work nationally, Democratic governors continue to strongly oppose Republican voter suppression. Recently, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer crushed Republican bills that could have disenfranchised 18,000 voters. And Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a Republican effort to narrow the window to request an absentee ballot.
Republicans didn’t like the way the last election went, so they’re trying to make it harder for people to vote, plain and simple.
In places where they are in power, Democratic governors, secretaries of state and state legislators have been a brick wall against these efforts. But we need to elect more pro-suffrage Democrats at the state and local levels.
We can’t afford Republican governors and secretaries of state who will undermine democracy if it means Donald Trump will say nice things about them. We need democrats who are committed to free and fair elections. We don’t have time for pet dogs.
Make no mistake, the right to vote – and the future of our democracy – is on the ballot in 2022.
And when it comes to protecting the sacred right to vote, the DNC is going to be on the front line.
We will register and notify voters. We will sue Republicans in court when they try to restrict the right to vote. We will use data and technology to innovate and find new ways to fight back. And we will elect pro-vote Democrats in every ballot.
This Black History Month, and every month, we won’t just be talking about the legacy of heroes like John Lewis. We will carry forward these legacies.
We will write the next chapter of history in the fight to vote – and we will ensure that now and forever, the Democrats are remembered as the party of the vote.
In honor of my grandfather and so many others, to protect the future of my children and millions of others, this is my promise.