The Republican filibuster of voting rights legislation was disappointing and harmful. But the fight for voting rights is far from over.
Voting Rights: An Old and New Fight
People For the American Way has always stood for voting rights. We advocate for access to the ballot for all Americans who can legally vote. Unfortunately, the Far Right has stepped up its efforts to suppress voting rights. These efforts gathered strength after Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election and began spreading the Big Lie that the election was “stolen” from him. Republican legislatures in dozens of states began passing voter suppression laws they claimed would fight election fraud. But the truth is that those laws were meant to suppress the votes of Black and brown Americans, women, LGBTQ Americans, people with disabilities, and other voters outside of the Far Right base. Because they could not win on the strength of their ideas, Far Right politicians decided the way to win was to stop a large share of American voters from voting.
In response, the House passed legislation to protect and restore voting rights: the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act. But these bills stalled in the Senate when Republicans blocked them, using the filibuster. People For the American Way and coalition partners mobilized to push the White House and Senate to do everything in their power to overcome the Republican blockade. Right now, the bills remain blocked.
What’s Next for Voting Rights?
As our People For president Ben Jealous has written, “This will not stand.” We have a number of options to explore in the ongoing fight for voting rights.
Many parts of the large voting rights bills are popular on their own, like expanding early voting and making Election Day a federal holiday. We can work toward passage of these individual measures. At the same time we are considering reforms, we can work to turn out voters at the local level. We can help them overcome new obstacles in their path to ensure they can exercise their rights.
Voter suppression takes many forms, from closing polling places, to creating ID requirements that are difficult for many to meet, to removing ballot drop boxes. It often means strictly limiting vote-by-mail options that people with disabilities and workers with limited time and flexibility rely on. Voter suppression forces people to decide whether they can take time away from their job or family to spend hours in a voting line. It harms people singled out by voter ID laws like the one in Texas, where a gun license is acceptable but a student ID is not.
Voter suppression is wrong and undemocratic, and unsurprisingly, its harms fall most heavily on some of our society’s most vulnerable citizens.
We Need You
People For the American Way members and supporters are our greatest asset in the fight for voting rights. This is the civil rights fight of our time, and like past civil rights fights, it will not be won in a day. We are confident that ultimately, we will succeed. Join us, and be part of our work to uphold this most sacred of rights in our democracy.