Crist, Sewell Lead Call to Restore Voting Rights Act
Washington, DC, March 18, 2021
Washington, DC – U.S. Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Terri Sewell (D-AL), author of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, led 26 Democratic Members of Congress hailing from states whose Republican legislatures are attempting to dismantle voting laws in sending a letter to House Leadership urging swift consideration of a modernized Voting Rights Act.
The Members point to an outbreak of voter suppression measures moving through Republican-led states, including restricted vote-by-mail, reduced early voting sites, and eliminating “Souls to the Polls” Sunday early voting, heavily utilized by Black churchgoers.
In Florida, Governor DeSantis is proposing to limit ballot drop boxes and require Floridians to re-register to receive vote-by-mail ballots every two years, among other suppression tactics. Congressman Crist has blasted these efforts, calling them “a nakedly partisan political play.”
“The right to vote is a bedrock democratic principle, one of our most important civil rights. Without the ability to make your voice heard by voting, all of your rights are at risk,” said Rep. Crist.
“Despite the most secure, most scrutinized election in our nation’s history, Republicans across the country are dusting off a shameful playbook from the past in an effort to rig the rules, suppress the vote, and hold onto power. Politicians in Republican-led states across America, emboldened by a Supreme Court that gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act, are launching a coordinated attack on Black, Hispanic, Native American, and student voters. I’m proud to work with my Democratic colleagues to defend the right of our constituents to vote. A fully functioning, updated Voting Rights Act is a top priority for this Congress.
“Your vote is your voice, and we’re not going to let politicians take it away!”
A pdf of the letter can be found here, with the text appearing below.
March 18, 2021
The Honorable Nancy D. Pelosi, Speaker
The Honorable Steny H. Hoyer, Majority Leader
The Honorable Jerrold Nadler, Chairman
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer, and Chairman Nadler
As members from states that are actively pursuing new voter suppression measures, we write with great concern that voters lack the protection of a fully functioning Voting Rights Act. Opponents of our democracy in state legislatures, governors, and members of the judiciary are attacking the right to vote. Therefore, we must ensure all efforts to restore voting rights are addressed through a deliberative, legislative process as the 117th Congress prioritizes the restoration and modernization of the Voting Rights Act.
“When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something. To do something.” We heed these iconic words of our late colleague, the Honorable John R. Lewis. And we will not be silent while voters in our states are targeted with measures like restricting ballot drop boxes and making vote-by-mail harder in Florida, eliminating “Souls to the Polls” Sunday early voting frequently used by Black churchgoers in Georgia, and adding a notary requirement to mail ballots in Arizona.
As you know, the misguided Shelby v. Holder decision gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Since then, voters of color, students, and seniors – particularly in states that lost Section 5 coverage – have endured relentless, targeted attacks on their right to vote. When signed into law in 1965, the Voting Rights Act was critical for preserving the right to vote. As our states are demonstrating, it remains critical today. The Democratic Party has been the party of voting rights for decades, and we have confidence that under your leadership, we will not only restore but strengthen the Voting Rights Act in this Congress. We look forward to this work.
Charlie Crist Terri Sewell
Kathy Castor Jim Cooper
Ted Deutch Lloyd Doggett
Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. Ann Kirkpatrick
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