“Our democracy is under attack again, with partisan voter suppression efforts by GOP officials sweeping across the country. Today, 100 leading scholars on democracy released a formal statement urging members of Congress to do whatever necessary, including suspending the filibuster to enact national voting laws that strengthen American democracy. We share their concern.
When the health of a democracy deteriorates, it’s often extremely difficult, and in some cases impossible, to fully recover. With much of the Republican party fully dedicated to amassing political power at any cost, the wellbeing and future of our democracy depends on whether Democratic lawmakers in the Senate act in the next several months.
They don’t have a choice here – if our democracy is going to survive, Congress must pass sweeping voting rights protections, likely through eliminating the filibuster.
Since the beginning of the year, GOP lawmakers around the country have passed anti-democratic laws in an effort to swing the next election (and each one thereafter) in their favor. Just this weekend, Texas lawmakers sparred over a bill that, if passed, would’ve created some of the strictest limitations in the country on voting access. Democrats killed that measure by walking off the floor, ultimately denying the GOP majority a quorum, but that’s likely only a temporary victory. And across the country, things are getting even worse.
Between January 1st and May 14th, 2021, 14 states enacted 22 new laws that restrict voter access. At least 61 bills with restrictive provisions are making their way through 18 state legislatures, and 31 have already passed at least 1 chamber. Many of these bills would reverse the expansion of vote by mail, which made voting significantly more accessible for millions of Americans during the 2020 elections, and impose even further restrictions. These bills are truly alarming, but there’s still time for Congress to act!
The ‘For the People Act,’ currently under consideration in the Senate, would drastically improve voter access by establishing same-day and online voter registration, and eliminating cumbersome voter registration systems, paperwork, and waiting periods. It would also promote overall voter integrity, and ensure voter security by making sure that American elections are decided solely by American voters without any interference from “dark money,” or untraceable political spending meant to influence elections by swaying the decisions of voters.
The For the People Act is the boldest attempt at democracy reform this country has seen in decades, coming at a time when our democracy is in great danger. We need the For the People Act to undo the wave of anti-democratic legislation being passed across the nation, but it wouldn’t just maintain the status quo of 2020. It would offer better voter access, better voter representation, better voter integrity, and better election security. It will protect our democracy and give a voice to all citizens in this country.
While the For the People Act is a great bill, it won’t make much of a difference if Democrats don’t pass it quickly. This is a time-sensitive issue. If this legislation isn’t passed into law soon, there won’t be time to enact these extremely necessary changes before the next election.
A Senate vote is scheduled for the week of June 21st.,without any Republican support, the For the People Act is dead in the water unless Democrats take on the filibuster. We hope they will, and we will keep pressuring them to do whatever it takes to pass this critical piece of legislation. The filibuster is a ridiculous relic of a different era, and we cannot allow it to hold up reforms that will save our democracy.
Senate Democrats need to care more about protecting the foundation of our democracy than they do about maintaining norms. They must pass the For the People Act, and if it takes eliminating the filibuster to do so, then that’s a price they should all be willing to pay.”
(The Patriotic Millionaires, June 1st, 2021, slightly edited for length)