During a recent appearance on MSNBC, voting rights activist — and now Georgia gubernatorial candidate — Stacey Abrams shared that she is hopeful about the direction of work to protect democracy in the United States and urged further action. Republican state officials around the U.S., including in Abrams’s own state of Georgia, have pushed suppressive new election restrictions that don’t respond to actual issues with systematic election integrity — since such problems do not exist in the United States — but do make voting more difficult.
As Abrams explained:
‘I actually do feel that we are making progress… What we have watched over the last ten months on voting rights has been a shift among those who were not standing with us, who are now standing and leading on the issue. We have seen changes made in the language to protect our voters, to protect our election workers, to protect our democracy. And we are continuing to see progress.’
Anybody notice that the filibuster rule was just changed to allow the debt ceiling to be raised with just 51 votes? So why can't filibuster rule be changed to allow passage of voting rights by just 51 votes? Hmmm, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema?
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) December 10, 2021
Abrams then shared that she was confident that both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will pass both chambers of Congress and be enacted into law. Each of these bills would shore up federal protections for voting rights in unique ways — the Freedom to Vote Act would, as explained by CNN, “make it easier to register to vote, make Election Day a public holiday, ensure states have early voting for federal elections and allow all voters to request mail-in ballots” (among other things), while the John Lewis Voting Rights Act would re-establish requirements for approvals by federal authorities before the implementation of certain changes to the conducting of elections. That would help with stopping certain instances of voter suppression before they even begin.
Abrams added as follows:
‘Congress, especially the U.S. Senate, has to understand that action is vital. And we’re seeing that play out with the gerrymandering. We’re seeing it play out in how election workers are under attack. And we’re seeing it play out in the conversations about whether we have a real democracy. But I have faith in our leaders because I have faith in our people. Americans will not stand for the fall of our nation, and I believe that we will continue to lift our voices.’
At this point, it’s a familiar problem — the Senate’s filibuster rules demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving forward on most bills, meaning that having a simple majority in favor of this voting rights legislation isn’t enough. The efforts nevertheless help provide an outline for the important path ahead.
It’s 2021, not 1951. The Senate’s dysfunctional procedures are not sacrosanct. Voting rights are. https://t.co/gQuqOmRYj7
— Brennan Center (@BrennanCenter) December 11, 2021