OP-ED – What You Are Against Speaks Volumes When It Comes to Protecting the Right to Vote

March 11, 2021

OP-ED – What You Are Against Speaks Volumes When It Comes to Protecting the Right to Vote

Washington, D.C. “ March 10, 2021 “ The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL)

Knowing where you stand with other people is valuable, but knowing what you stand for is priceless. Over time, and with input from our Members through the NBCSL Resolution Process, we have made our stance clear with regard to the right to vote. As you may be aware, our current and past Members include civil rights champions and change agents who have been on the front line protecting this most sacred right with their blood, sweat, and tears, so we know where we stand. We are against voter discrimination and intimidation that continues to occur across the country. We stand in opposition to states that have consistently passed measures obstructing voting participation for Americans, particularly African Americans, Latinos and other people of color, the elderly, students, people with disabilities, and the poor. And we stand against any design or scheme to weaken or dismantle the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

As formerly disenfranchised people, we view with skepticism any argument that election security means that we have to limit or curtail access to the ballot as argued by proponents of election reform measures that are sweeping through states with a history of denying Black people the right to vote. This simply is not true. We have been in this fight long enough to recognize subterfuge, and we can distinguish potable from wastewater. Suffice it to say measures like the ones introduced in Georgia, Mississippi, Arizona and New Hampshire simply stink. No one could care more about election security for the ballot and for the voter than our Members do. No one has a more vested interest to ensure that all legal votes are counted in an election than people who once faced literacy tests, poll taxes, and other Jim Crow laws designed to limit the counting of votes. We resisted and prevailed against this type of racist and backward thinking before and we will prevail again.

For those Americans who sincerely want every legal vote counted, and who desire to have open, secure, fair, and impartial elections, join us in supporting the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act which will strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Congressman Lewis was certainly in favor of counting every legal vote, but he was also vehemently against any state or federal law that would quiet or muzzle citizen voices. Since the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision, Jim Crow-like state laws have resurfaced in a coordinated effort to restrict voting access for people of color. So, again we who believe in justice, equality and the value of a citizen’s voice in governing themselves, call on Congress to help end this assault by some states on our democracy.

When it comes to protecting the right to vote, we are against intimidation, against racial discrimination, and against restricting access to the ballot. Our position has and will be consistent. You can count on it. And that is priceless.