Pushing President Biden on Voting Rights

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President Biden delivered his first State of the Union address this month, outlining his priorities for the nation. But in a prepared speech of more than 6,500 words, he devoted just 83 to the right to vote, briefly urging Congress to pass federal legislation that has been consistently stalled by Senate filibuster.

Among the proposals stalled in the Senate is the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in its 2013 ruling. Shelby County vs. Holder decision and the Freedom to Vote Act, which would create a national standard for access to the vote.

“The most fundamental right in America is the right to vote — and to make it count. And it’s under attack,” Biden said during his speech. “State after state, new laws have been passed, not just to suppress voting, but to overturn entire elections. We can’t let that happen.”

Many suffrage advocates responded with disappointment that Biden’s speech did not detail the impact of anti-voting laws on marginalized communities and the need for comprehensive voter protections — all the more so. that the speech, which came amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, centered on defence. of democracy in the world.

“The State of the Union address is where a president has the nation’s full attention to lay out his priorities,” David Daley, senior fellow at FairVote and author of “Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy”. says Newsweek. “Last night, President Biden gave the right to vote and the future of our democracy about 85 words, and maybe 30 seconds. It is not enough.

Last year, fueled by false allegations of voter fraud, at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting voting access, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. That onslaught has intensified this year: So far, lawmakers in at least 27 states have introduced, pre-introduced, or passed more than 250 bills with restrictive voting provisions, including voting requirements. voter identification and limits on voter registration and voting by mail — provisions that would disproportionately impact communities of color across the South.

Over the past year, lawmakers across the country have piled on laws to make it harder, and in many ways nearly impossible, for many black and brown voters to vote,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project, a national civil organization. “We need immediate action to protect early voting, mail-in voting and prevent new anti-voting laws that silence our communities.”

Now, vote advocates are seizing the moment by stepping up their mobilization and organizing their efforts for voter protection. The aftermath of Bidens March 1 speeches, lawyers and religious leaders walked to the White House to demand action on voting rights and citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Led by Faith in Action, a nationwide network of community organizing, 300 people marched through Washington’s Black Lives Matter Plaza and headed to the White House to demand expanded access to the ballot.

We all deserve to vote safely,” Reverend Alvin Herring, executive director of Faith in Action, said in a statement. “Our leaders should seek to expand democracy, but instead some lawmakers are working to destroy it as we see more and more states adding hoops for voters to jump through.”

Most recently, activists gathered in Selma, Alabama, March 3-6 to commemorate the 57th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police violently attacked peaceful suffrage marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 – an incident that prompted Congress to pass voting rights. Law. The annual event also known as the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee is held to honor the sacrifices of former suffrage activists.

Vice President Kamala Harris was in attendance this year, while President Biden issued a statement saying his administration would continue to implement his executive order to promote voter participation and noting that his Department of Justice has doubled its staff. responsible for the application of voting rights. Attendees at the event recommitted themselves to the fight to restore the Voting Rights Act, which many saw as the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement.

The march signifies the ongoing struggle and the steps we must take to ensure democracy is preserved for Alabamians and all Americans,” said Jerome Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center.s Alabama Policy Director. WeWe are witnessing a dedicated attack on the removal of voting access primarily from minorities, so this event reminds us that the fight for suffrage is still firmly in place.”

Suffrage advocates also plan to keep up the pressure on federal officials as the midterm elections approach. Cliff Albright, co-founder of Give Us the Ballot and the Black Voters Matter Fund, recently told Vox that organizers plan to ask federal candidates to sign a pledge to support voting rights and change the filibuster.

“We’re going to go out and mobilize our community,” he said, “but this time we’re going to do it with promissory notes in hand.”

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