By: Roy Douglas Malonson
Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama has come out swinging, joining the mission to register at least one million new voters all over the country.
Obama, and her organization “When We All Vote,” are launching a national campaign to get a massive amount of unregistered citizens to the polls before the midterm elections.
“In 2020, millions made their voices heard at the polls. But now, folks who oppose that progress are making it harder to vote. That’s why I’m asking you to join When We All Vote and 30 other organizations to turn out more voters and urge Congress to pass voting rights legislation,” said Obama in a letter posted on her Twitter feed.
Besides an unprecedented amount of new registrants, the coalition, composed of 100,000 volunteers and lawyers to protect voters from unjust laws, is spearheading the fight to pass the Freedom To Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Obama revealed that part of the inspiration behind the coalition was the Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol building in 2020.
“One year ago, we witnessed an unprecedented assault on our Capitol and our democracy,” she writes in the letter. “From Georgia and Florida to Iowa and Texas, states passed laws designed to make it harder for Americans to vote. And in other state legislatures across the nation, lawmakers have attempted to do the same.”
This devastating rash of voter suppression across the country became a hot trend for state legislatures in 2021, and is unfortunately attempting to do the same in 2022.
In the year 2021, 19 states passed 34 laws restricting voting access which directly affects Black people, people of color, students, people with disabilities, and the elderly. More than 440 bills in 49 states have been passed with provisions that restrict voting access. State legislators have also hired partisan actors to interfere with election processes and reject election results.
So far, these trends are carrying into 2022 with at least 13 pre-filed bills that restrict voter access in four states. 88 of these bills from 2021 will continue in 2022. This trend, along with the continuous lie of the 2020 election fraud indicate that the struggle for voting rights is far from over.
The solution? Two proposed bills that would protect voter’s rights and ward off the attack on democracy have passed the House of Representatives and have yet to be put into effect due to a filibuster in the Senate.
These two bills are the Freedom to Vote Act, a bill that covers a broad range of topics including redistricting, campaign finance reforms, election security, and anti-partisan elections.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act precisely targets discriminatory practices and voting rules in states where perverse discrimination is rampant. This includes protecting the right to vote for all vulnerable demographics including BIPOC, the elderly, students, etc. It also restores the voter’s right to fight against unjust voting laws across the country.
The nation is stumbling through the thick of an unprecedented attack on democracy and the countless minority communities, but especially the Black community which has historically and continuously labored to ensure voting rights for all.
In his speech on Tuesday, President Biden told Republicans to get on the right side of history and end this filibuster, which is an international embarrassment for a country supposedly known to take swift action against unjust laws.
“Do you want to be on the side of Martin Luther King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of (former congressman) John Lewis or Bull Connor? The side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?”
“Not a single Republican has displayed the courage to stand up to a defeated president, to protect America’s right to vote. Not one,” Biden said, referring to Trump and voting rights.
In his speech, President Biden also advocated for the Senate to change rules that would eradicate the filibuster.
The soul of America rests in the hands of an idle government, split between those who wish to ensure that the white and powerful remain in power, and that minority and historically persecuted communities remain voiceless.