Michelle Obama Calls To Defend Voting Rights To Honor John Lewis

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This weekend, former First Lady Michelle Obama shared an urgent call to protect voting rights as Republicans in positions of state-level power attempt to impose suppressive new restrictions on elections. Specifically, Democratic leaders — including, in this instance, the former First Lady — have been advocating for the passage of two bills, including the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The For the People Act includes a broad range of provisions that would make voting in federal elections more accessible, while the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would re-impose a requirement for pre-approval from federal authorities ahead of the implementation of certain changes to the conducting of elections.

The hope with requiring approval by federal authorities before certain changes to the ways that elections are run would be to stop voter suppression before it starts. The John Lewis voting rights bill is set for consideration by the Senate later this year, and while Senate Republicans have already filibustered the For the People Act once, it could be brought up again. This weekend was the anniversary of the death of civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis, and on Saturday, Michelle Obama tweeted as follows:

‘A year ago today, we lost Congressman John Lewis. As we celebrate the king of good trouble—his legacy of perseverance; his ability to find moments of joy and lightness in the midst of real struggle—we should also recommit ourselves to building the future he envisioned. All across our country, the sacred right to vote that he marched and bled for is being threatened. That’s why we’ve got to do everything in our power to pass the #ForThePeopleAct and the #JohnLewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Everyone deserves to have their voices heard and their votes counted, and I can’t think of a better way to honor Congressman Lewis than by turning these bills into law.’

In numerous states, Republicans have been pursuing restrictive new election rules, like a ban on mobile polling places in Georgia and a ban on the paid collection of mail-in ballots by third parties in Montana. The problem with that latter provision is that, in Montana, there is no door-to-door mail service in certain areas of Native American reservations. Thus, community organizers have historically assisted with getting ballots to election authorities from people who, for whatever reason, can’t leave their homes. These newly imposed restrictions do not address any actual, documented, systematic election integrity problem, since such a problem doesn’t exist. Republicans are, in reality, simply making it more difficult to vote, which is the exact opposite of what should be taking place in a democracy.