It’s Time for Congress to Pass the Freedom to Vote Act

On July 18, leaders in both chambers of Congress reintroduced the Freedom to Vote Act, which would provide a national baseline for voting access for all and ban partisan gerrymandering. As Sen. Raphael Warnock powerfully stated during a press conference unveiling the legislation, “There’s nothing more important for us to do in this moment than to preserve the house of our democracy.”

Two days later, voting rights advocates gathered with members of Congress outside the U.S. Capitol to celebrate the bill’s introduction and to underscore the urgency of its passage. Leslie Proll, the senior director of our voting rights program, joined members of our coalition and of the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD) coalition in calling for swift congressional action. Here’s what she said:

This is a tremendous day. We are very proud to stand here with our partners and our members. Huge shout out to the DFAD coalition for leading on this and also to the incredible congressional leadership we’ve seen here today. They are passionate, they are dedicated, they are committed, and they are tenacious.

Last month marked the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act. Since that time, we have seen countless schemes and tactics adopted by states and localities to restrict the vote of people of color in every way, shape, and form.

State legislators have been relentless in their efforts to disenfranchise even some of their own constituents. And make no mistake: This has had a cumulative and devastating impact on democracy. It is long past time for Congress to respond.

We appreciate the congressional leadership here today. The Freedom to Vote Act will help substantially to overcome this unprecedented surge in voter suppression by replacing many of the voting restrictions with uniform standards, ensuring that all voters everywhere have expanded opportunities to cast a ballot.

Whether you live in Alabama or Idaho, you should be able to vote easily and freely. And you should be protected from the purges, sabotage, intimidation, and deception that have targeted primarily voters of color.

But Congress can’t stop here. We need a fully restored and strengthened Voting Rights Act. We are now in our second decade of a diminished democracy because of the Shelby County decision.

We look forward to working with Congress — and we count on the bipartisan support that has always backed federal voting rights protections — to update and modernize what is known as the most successful civil rights law in history and to continue to build a multiracial democracy in which everyone’s voice is heard.

Our coalition urges both chambers of Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act so we can build a multiracial democracy that works for all of us. We also look forward to Congress reintroducing and passing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act. We won’t rest until it happens.