More than half a century after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rallied organizers across the nation to fight for the right of all American citizens to vote, the country sits at a crossroad on the matter of a free and fair election. Yesterday, President Joe Biden stood in King’s hometown, sharing his thoughts on the ongoing debate.
“Black Americans were denied full citizenship and voting rights until 1965. Women were denied the right to vote until just 100 years ago. The United States Supreme Court, in recent years, has weakened the Voting Rights Act. And now the defeated former president and his supporters use the Big Lie about the 2020 election to fuel torrent and torment and anti-voting laws—new laws designed to suppress your vote, to subvert our elections,” President Biden said.
In the year since the Biden-Harris administration took the helm, more than a dozen states have passed restrictive voting laws, making it harder for Americans to have access to the ballot box. In most cases these laws have disproportionately affected Black voters and have created Republican strongholds in key battleground states. Legislation designed to curtail the affects of new and similar measures has been locked up in the Senate for months. It’s why Biden is now calling for an end to the Senate filibuster.
A proponent of filibusters for years, Biden is no longer able to support the congressional procedure of unlimited debate due to what is at stake—our democracy. The changing landscape of the United States has left conservative politicians on the defense, seeking to circumvent liberal shifts in states like Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina. The continuing discussions on whether or not its legal to purge voting rolls, require certain identification for voters, or allow for the removal of multilingual voting materials in addition to other forms of voting discrimination has stalled movement on protecting these rights at a critical moment in the history of this nation.
If passed, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act would increase accessibility to voters, increase transparency of new voting rights laws, and allow the federal courts to order in states where the effect of a particular voting measure could lead to racial discrimination in voting and to deny citizens their right to vote.