On Wednesday February 23rd, 2022, President Mitchell and the NBCSL Officers had the pleasure of meeting with the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris. Our intention for this sit-down with Vice President Harris was to get an update on the crucial voting rights legislation that failed in the Senate, to discuss a new strategy to get the legislation passed, and to understand what next steps the Administration will be taking to achieve this necessary task of protecting the right to vote for every American.
During this meeting, President Mitchell and the Officers provided an update on NBCSL’s ongoing national voting rights campaign and voting rights initiatives in respective states. We wanted Vice President Harris and her team to know that Black state legislators have been fully engaged in the fight to oppose voter suppression legislation in their state legislatures. We wanted them to recognize that we are closest to the ground in this battle and fear that the cascade of voter suppression being passed by state legislatures, if left unchecked, will reverse the voting rights clock and return American to a pre-Voting Rights era.
We wanted Vice President Harris to understand that although we have been working hard in our respective state legislatures to blunt the impact of voter suppression, we have had little success. With this understanding, we see the need for a different tactic to address this dire circumstance that could result to a pre-1965 VRA environment for our democracy. Furthermore, we have observed that corporate America has been largely silent on this issue. We know that corporate American can influence legislative outcomes and that they are concerned about protecting the democratic process and their consumer base.
Based on our observations, we made the request to Vice President Harris and President Biden to host a national forum of corporate America’s Presidents and Chief Executive Officers to discuss and seek consensus on the role they can play in this process of opposing voter suppression efforts.
Vice President Harris shares our disappointment over the Senate not passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. Although we need federal legislation, there is still work to do at the state level, said Vice President Harris on yesterday.
We have no doubt that the Biden Administration will work with us to protect voting rights for all Americans. NBCSL looks forward to the continued work that we will do with President Biden and Vice President Harris.