5th GOP Filibuster Blocking Voting Rights Is an Affront to Democracy

January 19. 2022

Noreen Farrell
By Noreen Farrell, Executive Director

"The Senate's undemocratic obstruction to the voting rights of communities of color must end."

We are at a critical and transformational point in our democracy. After last year’s literal assault on our democratic process by individuals on the conservative Right, we have watched the politicians who abetted them escape accountability.

Tonight, we saw Senate Republicans continue this assault, using the filibuster for a fifth time to attack democracy. We strongly denounce today’s the Republican filibuster obstructing federal voting rights legislation that would expand and protect voting access for Black voters and others disproportionately impacted by state voter suppression laws.

The Senate’s undemocratic obstruction to the voting rights of communities of color must end.

If state legislatures threaten access to the ballot, our federal government is required by our Constitution to protect it.

The legislation blocked by Congress today (The Freedom to Vote: John Lewis Voting Rights Act) combines two House of Representatives-approved bills addressing more than 500 anti-voter bills introduced in 48 states in the 2021 legislative session. It would, among other protections, make registering to vote easier, protect and expand mail voting access, prevent partisan gerrymandering, and reverse a 2013 Supreme Court decision that struck down key portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, requiring several states with a history of voting rights discrimination, largely in the South, to get preclearance from the Department of Justice for any changes to voting laws.

The bill is crucial to ensuring the right to vote nationwide, so its blockage is a major blow to democracy.

The communities damaged most by the policies of the last administration, who have also been sickened and impoverished by three years of COVID, are witnessing their elected officials squander precious time. These families are struggling on a knife’s edge to care for their loved ones, put food on the table, and work for paychecks that don’t cover their most basic needs. These families are losing hope that anyone will help them survive disasters that threaten their childcare, their children’s wellbeing, and their livelihoods.

We urge President Biden to act on his Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting and implement federal agency plans promoting voter access.

As Americans, we should have hope in our fundamental civil rights – especially our right to vote for leaders who will leverage the mighty power of our government to keep its people from harm. But today’s Republican filibuster obstruction (a repeat of the historic use of this Senate procedure to disenfranchise Black voters) not only eats away at that hope, but also threatens any future hope for a strong, viable democracy.

We believe in the power of the people – and the people who have suffered the most over the past five years through Trump, and now through COVID, need the power of the ballot box to transform their communities and their own lives. If state legislatures threaten access to the ballot, our federal government is required by our Constitution to protect it.

Equal Rights Advocates condemns those Senators who set themselves against the very foundation of our democracy today. We call on Senate leadership to continue to push for passage of this critical legislation. We urge President Biden to act on his Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting and implement federal agency plans promoting voter access.  Our communities and our democracy cannot wait any longer.

This fight is not over. We press on.

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