EOPA, an organization of thousands of U.S. elected officials, urges immediate Senate passage of voting rights legislation to protect our democracy 

By Ramona du Houx

January 14, 2022

The U.S. Senate only requires a simple majority, or 51 votes, to pass a bill after debate has ended. However, it takes 60 votes to close debate. That threshold, known as the filibuster, makes 60 votes what it takes to pass a bill. As it stands a minority has the power to control the majority with the filibuster. This antiquated form of voting is hypocritical in a democratic nation where the threshold of winning Congressional elections is a simple majority. 

But the filibuster rules can be changed for the good of the people abiding by our Constitution.

Recently, the Senate enacted a filibuster exemption for a vote to raise the debt ceiling, for the good of the people. For decades, this Senate procedure has been used to block critical civil rights and voting rights legislation. To protect our democracy from minority rule, the importance of making a filibuster exemption for voting rights has never been clearer. But two Senate Democrats, Sinema and Manchin, disagree along with every Senate Republican. In 2006, during the Bush administration the voting rights legislation came up for reauthorization and 16 of these current sitting Senate Republicans voted for the legislation. Now they won’t.

Our Democracy has grown more and more unstable since the attempted coup of January 6, 2021. A recent poll shows that more than one-third of Americans don’t even believe that President Biden legitimately won, despite the fact that he clearly did by over 7 million votes. In the year since the insurrection, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, 49 states introduced more than 440 bills with provisions that restrict voting access. At least 34 laws restricting access to voting have passed in 19 states. These voter suppression efforts disproportionately target BIPOC communities — the same communities that continue to bear the brunt of the climate crisis. 

“The right to vote is under siege. The unabashed efforts to restrict access to the ballot and reshape voting districts are undeniably focused on obstructing future election results. These new Jim Crow  measures have the clear intent to undermine democracy by preventing citizens from voting. The only way we’ll succeed in securing environmental justice is when we achieve voting rights justice,” said Dominic Frongillo, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Elected Officials to Protect America. “Elected Officials to Protect America endorses the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. They must become law for the future of our democracy.”

The Freedom to Vote and John Lewis Voting Rights Acts would make Election Day a national holiday, increase access to mail-in and early voting, prevent future attempts to undermine and attack our elections, and protect voters from discrimination. According to a survey conducted by Lake Research VRAA is supported by 70 percent of voters, and a Navigator poll  found that a majority of Americans support the Freedom to Vote Act.

The Senators obstructing the filibuster exemption for these voting rights bills have stated that making this exemption would divide our country more, and they don’t want the situation to be made worse. But if they don’t make this exemption too many citizens will have their right to vote taken away and the balance of power could change, thereby worsening the divide and making the situation more serious.

“Every member of the military and every elected official takes an oath to uphold the Constitution — to serve and protect the people from all foreign and domestic threats. Obstructing the right to vote is a threat against our people, and our democracy. I fought overseas and served in the Maine state legislature protecting our democracy. Our Senators should uphold their vow and fight for everyone’s right to vote. Elected Officials to Protect America urges the immediate passage of The Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, former Marine combat veteran, President of Elected Officials to Protect America and Co-Founder.

On January 11, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about the importance of voting rights in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The right to vote and have that vote count, it is democracy’s threshold liberty. Without it, nothing is possible. But with it, anything is possible,” said President Biden during his speech.