People For the American Way

Virginia Lawmakers Have a “Moral Responsibility” to Support the For the People Act

Op-Ed
Virginia Lawmakers Have a “Moral Responsibility” to Support the For the People Act

In a Feb. 22 op-ed published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, People For President Ben Jealous and Rev. Gregory King outline why Virginia lawmakers should support the For the People Act, a democracy reform package that would restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act and advance many other measures to strengthen our democracy.

Jealous and King applaud Virginia state officials for defeating recent voter suppression measures in their legislature and for prioritizing voting rights protections at the state level– but they should take similar action to protect voting rights for all Americans by co-sponsoring and voting for H.R. 1, the For the People Act. They write:

This is a bill that would outlaw partisan, racial gerrymandering — the process of creating voting districts unfairly skewed toward one party or group. It would put a stop to voter suppression tactics like drastic purges of voter rolls and discriminatory voter ID laws …

There are other provisions, too, that would have the effect of making our democracy more inclusive. One of these is small-donor matching funds for candidates to help slash the outsize political influence of moneyed special interests.

We need action now, because in politics, we never know when a window of opportunity will open and when it will close. We know there are forces in our country that violently are opposed to a more inclusive democracy … Yes, they include rioters we saw at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. But they also include those who quietly are ensconced in local legislatures, working to codify a status quo that privileges the few over the many. Now is our opportunity to turn back that tide.

This legislation is critical to Virginia’s future, and we urge our leaders to champion its passage … We owe it to ourselves and our children to bend that moral arc a little further every day, just as [Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.] did.

Read the full op-ed here.