A multiracial coalition of civil rights, social justice, and labor organizations have launched a national campaign aimed at raising awareness of voting rights protections. It’s called `Fighting for Our Vote.’
The new campaign is being spearheaded by the NAACP, ACLU, AFSCME, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, and the National Education Association. Collectively, the groups represent millions of members.
“America cannot call itself a representative democracy if all the people are not represented,” said Bishop Leah Daughtry in a statement to ESSENCE. The nationally recognized political strategist, activist and faith leader will serve as campaign manager for the coalition.
“Unfortunately, we are in the throes of an ongoing attack from those seeking to marginalize voices at the ballot and unjustly tip the scales of democracy,” Daughtry continued. “We are determined to organize diverse people around voting, build a group of volunteers to become voting rights champions, and impact voting rights legislation in specific states where voter suppression efforts have been identified.”
The campaign plans to coordinate mass mobilization efforts and advocacy. Organizers said in a press conference they will target key U.S. cities to push for the passage of federal and state legislation that allows access to the ballot box in all communities.
Events are expected to take place around the country including: Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
The campaign plans to have volunteers and activists participate in COVID-safe, no-contact canvassing to provide informational literature on voting in public areas such as shopping centers and neighborhoods.
The coalition’s efforts come in response to more than 400 bills introduced in state legislatures nationwide. Critics say they are designed to disenfranchise voters of color especially by restricting voting by mail and early voting and imposing burdensome identification requirements. Already, more than a dozen pieces of legislation have become law in states such as Georgia, and about 50 Democratic lawmakers from Texas left the state to block a state bill. The highest state court in Texas has issued a ruling that reportedly clears the way for the lawmakers to be arrested if they don’t return to work.
On the federal level, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sought earlier this week to once again bring the For the People Act voting rights package to the floor for consideration. In June, Senate Republicans previously blocked efforts to open debate.
Yet Democrats hoped to pass the measure before the senators left for their summer recess. The last-minute effort was crushed when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) voted “no” to a unanimously-needed vote to proceed.
While the bill will likely be taken up again when Congress reconvenes, Marc Morial, President/CEO of the National Urban League, noted in a statement: “Once again, a group of Senators led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have shamefully blocked attempts to bring the For the People Act for a vote – calling into question their commitment to protecting the sacred right to vote for all Americans, regardless of party.”
“Now that the Senate is in recess and the district work period has begun, it is important that Americans appeal to their members in support of voting rights and in opposition to the anti-democratic efforts of many state legislatures across the country,” Morial added. “It is also important that Americans make their voices heard on the filibuster. It is a relic of the Jim Crow era, designed and used for decades to thwart civil rights legislation. We cannot let that happen again in this new era.”
With the upcoming midterm Congressional elections in 2022, Morial and fellow civil rights leaders said it is imperative that measures such as the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act are passed. The latter bill would restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“The urgency of this campaign can not be understated. The assault on voting rights we’ve witnessed over the last several months is a detriment to us all,” said Derrick Johnson, president/CEO of the NAACP in a statement. “Our access to the ballot, thus our voice to make our grievances known are being suppressed through restrictive legislation. If there was ever a time to engage in the fight for the right to vote, it is now.”