Over 50 years ago, Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act to ensure that all Americans have access to the foundation of our democracy, the right to vote. Yet today, we find ourselves moving backwards. The Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder gutted some of the federal protections of the Voting Rights Act, opening the door for state governments to impose voting restrictions that disproportionately affect low-income individuals, minorities, and young people.
I’ve often watched, horrified, as voters are forced to stand in outrageous lines at their polling places. States across the country have cut back on early voting hours, absentee ballots, and mail-in ballots, which will only make voting more difficult. These issues, coupled with Voter ID laws, present barriers to the ballot that put unacceptable restrictions on people's right to vote.
How can we hold ourselves up as a model of democracy when, instead of expanding and guaranteeing voting rights to all qualified voters, we seek to strip that right away? Instead of embracing every possible opportunity to protect and improve our democracy, we’re allowing it to crumble.
It is more urgent than ever that Congress pass legislation that reinstates the protections of the Voting Rights Act and protects the rights of voters everywhere. I co-sponsored H.R. 1, the For the People Act, to preserve Americans’ access to the ballot, reduce the influence of money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants and H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to prevent further infringements on the right to vote. I’ve also introduced the Filer Voter Act, which increases access to the voter registration process by allowing Americans to register to vote when they file their taxes.
Of the many tasks Congress has, protecting the democracy that countless Americans fought to build must be at the top of the list. While protecting election integrity is important, no law should infringe upon Americans’ basic right to vote. I will always fight for legislation that protects the hard-fought gains of the civil rights movement and breaks down barriers to the ballot box.