Posts tagged with "John Lewis Voting Rights Act"

Biden to endorse changing Senate filibuster to support voting rights

January 12, 2022

President Joe Biden, in a speech delivered on Tuesday, January 11, in Atlanta, planned to directly challenge the “institution of the United States Senate” to support voting rights by backing two major pieces of legislation and the carving out of an exception to the Senate’s 60-vote requirement, reports the HuffPost.

Coming a week before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Biden’s speech at the Atlanta University Center Consortium represents a follow-up to a speech he delivered last week on the first anniversary of the U.S. Capitol riot—characterizing both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act as critical to ensure that the turmoil of January 6, 2021, is followed by a revival of American democracy.

“The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation,” Biden planned to say, according to prepared remarks distributed by the White House. “Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch. I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is: Where will the institution of the United States Senate stand?”

Biden, who served as a senator from 1973 to 2009, argues that abuse of the filibuster―the arcane rule that requires 60 senators’ votes for most legislation to pass—has harmed the Senate as an institution and that carving out an exception for voting rights is the best way to protect the reputation and functionality of Congress’s upper chamber.

The Senate is set to vote on both pieces of voting rights legislation this week. While all 50 Democrats are expected to support the legislation, Republicans are expected to remain unified in opposition and block consideration―as they have the previous three times Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has attempted to call up the Freedom to Vote Act.

That unified GOP opposition will almost certainly lead to a vote on whether to significantly weaken the filibuster. But it appears unlikely Democrats will be able to corral the 50 votes necessary for a rule change. Sens. Joe Manchin (West Virginia.), Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) and other moderates are reluctant to change the body’s rules.

White House aides indicated that Biden’s speech points to Georgia as a reason why voting rights legislation is necessary—highlighting how the GOP-controlled state legislature passed laws making it harder to vote after Democrats won the presidential race and two Senate seats there in 2020.

The Freedom to Vote Act is a compromise version of the Democratic Party’s sweeping voting rights legislation, and it would override many of the restrictive voting laws passed by Republicans since the 2020 election and mandate early voting and same-day voter registration. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act would restore sections of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 that conservatives on the Supreme Court voted to gut in 2013.

Republicans, up to and including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, had long supported extensions to the Voting Rights Act but ceased doing so after the Supreme Court ruling.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Democratic group will pour $20 million into voting rights efforts

June 23, 2021

Priorities USA, one of the largest liberal super PACs, is hoping to counteract Republican-driven voting restrictions through both digital ad campaigns and legal efforts, The New York Times reports.

In a June 22 press release, the Democratic group says it will pump $20 million into voting rights initiatives ahead of the 2022 election cycle—aiming to combat Republican-led election laws with digital ads and organizing as well as in the courts.

The digital effort will include a series of extensive voter information campaigns, going beyond a more traditional approach that would consist solely of persuasion ads. The group’s overall goal is to help people navigate a new balloting landscape created by the many new restrictions passed by Republicans in at least 16 states. The campaigns will also provide voting tools like text message reminders to register to vote or request an absentee ballot.

“The purpose of this program is to really center the voters who we know are particularly targeted by the Republicans’ suppression efforts,” remarked Danielle Butterfield, the executive director of Priorities USA. “Those are voters of color—Black and Latino voters, specifically—and we plan to center them both in our creative and our targeting to make sure that they are aware of how empowering voting is.”

The other significant investment will be on the legal front, where the group has served as one of the leading litigators in voting lawsuits across the country. Priorities USA joined lawsuits in 10 states during the 2020 election and its aftermath, squaring off against legal attempts by Donald J. Trump’s campaign to overturn the election results and pushing back on new voting laws. Though Priorities has not sued any state this year in response to new voting restrictions, group officials said that more legal efforts would be coming soon.

According to the Times, the initial $20 million investment from Priorities comes as Democrats across the country are struggling to fight back against the Republican push to restrict voting. Opposition from major corporations, faith groups, civil rights groups and celebrities has done little to stymie new voting laws in key states like Georgia, Florida, Iowa and Arizona. Even a dramatic late-night walkout by Democrats in Texas, which effectively killed a Republican voting bill in the state, is likely to be only a temporary victory, with the governor pledging to enact new voting legislation through a special session of the Legislature.

The Supreme Court is also poised to deliver a ruling in the coming days on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, potentially further weakening its protections against voting restrictions. And Democrats in Washington appear to be on the brink of a defeat of their expansive federal voting bill, the For the People Act, with Republicans united in opposition and moderate Democrats unwilling to kill the filibuster to pass the legislation.

Of course, the new laws will continue to make it harder for some people to vote, and voter education and awareness efforts can go only so far. Priorities USA said it would continue to explore other avenues to help people vote.

“Most voting rights advocates and people that do this work would say that we don’t need to try to narrow it down to just one area of work,” said Aneesa S. McMillan, a deputy executive director at Priorities USA who oversees voting rights efforts. “We need to be thinking of a multipronged approach.”

Organizing campaigns are becoming an increasingly popular tool for Democrats to try to counteract new voting laws. This month, the Texas Democratic Party announced the largest voter registration push in its history, aiming to register two million new voters and investing about $14 million in the effort.

In addition to informing voters, an important component of the digital effort by Priorities USA will be fighting voting disinformation.

Research contact: @nytimes