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‘Our Democracy Is at Stake’: House Speaker Urges Democrats to Pass Voting Rights Legislation

‘Our Democracy Is at Stake’: House Speaker Urges Democrats to Pass Voting Rights Legislation

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to members of the Democratic caucus stressing the urgency of passing House Resolution 1 – the For The People Act – which is President Joe Biden’s proposed legislation to protect voting rights and expand access to the ballot box.

Photo by Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images

H.R. 1 is a congressional counterstrike against efforts by GOP-led states to curtail who gets to vote and when and how they are permitted to do it. In some cases, some state legislatures, such as Georgia, have gone so far as to criminalize handing out water to people waiting in line to exercise their constitutionally enshrined civic duty.

“To stop that anti-democratic tide, it is essential that we pass H.R. 1.  This legislation was developed before the 2018 election, when candidates called for the For The People Act to be our first order of business.  Congressman John Lewis wrote the first 300 pages of this bill to fight voter suppression.  These provisions are even more urgent in light of the recent Republican bills intensifying that voter suppression,” the Speaker said, noting:

As of May 14, nearly 400 voter restriction bills have been introduced across 48 states. Among the bills introduced:

  • Nineteen states have legislation to restrict who can vote by mail.  H.R. 1 requires a nationwide standard of no-excuse absentee voting. 

  • Twenty-seven states have laws to tighten or impose voter ID requirements.  Instead, H.R. 1 requires states to accept a sworn written statement signed under penalty of perjury in lieu of documentary ID. 

  • Seventeen states have bills to expand voter purges.  H.R. 1 prohibits purges based solely on unreliable evidence like past failure to vote, prohibits voter caging and limits inaccurate purges based on interstate cross-checks.

  • Eight states have bills to eliminate or prevent same-day voter registration.  H.R. 1 requires same-day voter registration.

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  • Laws that have already been enacted would limit the timing to apply for and deliver a mail ballot; limit the number, location or availability of mail drop boxes; limit who can assist in returning a mail-in or absentee ballots; and tighten ID requirements and expand purges.  H.R. 1 corrects for these voter suppression tactics.

Pelosi placed the blame squarely on Republicans for their anti-democratic crusade and their subservience to the fossil fuel industry.

“Voter suppression has been deepened by the suffocation of the airwaves caused by big dark special interest money.  If you wonder why we cannot enact legislation to protect the planet or enact gun violence prevention bills that are supported by the overwhelming majority of the American people, it is because Republicans in Congress are the handmaidens of the fossil fuel and gun industries,” Pelosi said. “H.R. 1 sheds light on this crisis by requiring disclosure of dark special interest money and empowering the grassroots and small donors. For these and other reasons, it is necessary that we prevail.”

Read the full letter here.

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