Civil Rights Groups: We Must Pass Voting Rights Bills “By Any Means Necessary”

"moderate" Democrats West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kirsten Sinema
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Photos: Twitter

WASHINGTON — Leading civil rights organizations released the following joint statement urging senators to be on the right side of history and pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act: “History will judge senators for what they do to protect voting rights, not arcane rules--as is being done by "moderate" Democrats West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kirsten Sinema (both shown above). The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act will ensure that voters across the country can safely and freely cast their ballots. Every senator who chooses obstruction over protecting our freedom to vote is contributing to the fall of our democracy.

Their legacies and our legacy as a country are on the line. Senators are elected to vote, not hide behind procedural rules while our voting rights are under attack. Sham excuses are unacceptable.

“The right to vote is our most fundamental right and is the right upon which all our other rights rest. People have died to achieve and protect this precious right. Democracy cannot exist without all of our participation. We cannot tolerate barriers to voting for people of color, veterans, people with disabilities, rural voters, new Americans, senior citizens, or young people. We cannot tolerate efforts to remove local election officials or harass them to prevent them from counting every vote. Instead, we must move forward and protect the voice and vote of every American.

“We are especially disappointed in senators of both parties who have supported amending the Senate rules for economic matters, but are unwilling to do so for the most critical matter facing our nation: the protection of the right to vote. These senators are either misguided or disingenuous in their motivations. We are also disappointed in senators who have supported voting rights legislation in the past, but who refuse to do so now out of fear of political retribution from cynical party leadership. History will judge them for it, as it has judged others who have sat idly by as civil rights have been abridged. They will be viewed with as much disdain as those who have actively sought to abridge civil rights. In the tradition of those civil rights giants who fought for voting rights before us, we ask those senators: ‘which side are you on, senator, which side are you on?’

“As we approach Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we will not accept empty promises in pursuit of Dr. King’s dream for a more equal and just America. Our leaders have a historic opportunity to restore and protect Dr. King’s legacy by passing the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.

“The Senate must act by any means necessary to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act so that every vote counts and we all have a say in our future. This legislation addresses some of the major problems facing our democracy by restoring the power of the Voting Rights Act, setting national standards to protect access to the vote, ending partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, beginning to overhaul our broken campaign finance system, and creating new safeguards against subversion of the electoral process.

"The filibuster must not be a barrier to protecting our freedom to vote.

“The current efforts to advance this important legislation will finally allow for an open and public debate. We will be watching the debate closely. We encourage all to watch closely and note where each senator, regardless of party, stands on preserving democracy and protecting the fundamental right to vote.”

This statement was signed by the following organizations:

  • National Coalition on Black Civic Participation/Black Women’s Roundtable President and CEO Melanie Campbell
  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Interim President and CEO Wade Henderson
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law President and Executive Director Damon Hewitt
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill
  • NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson
  • National Council of Negro Women Executive Director Janice L. Mathis
  • National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial
  • National Action Network President and Founder Reverend Al Sharpton

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