Voting Rights Bill Hits Roadblock in Senate, Faces Uncertain Future as Deadline for Democracy Approaches

Brady Watson and Jennifer Rennicks | June 30, 2021 | Elections, Energy Justice, Energy Policy

Update: On Thursday, July 1, the Supreme Court dealt yet another blow to our freedom to vote in Brnovich v DNC by upholding Arizona’s discriminatory voting laws and weakening Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act to make future challenges against anti-voter laws even more difficult.

As stated in a previous blog post, we at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) believe that efforts to preserve our democracy are inextricably linked to confronting the climate crisis. To ensure we enact the lasting, meaningful policies we must have to confront the climate crisis, we must also ensure our democracy is built to weather future storms. For this reason, SACE has supported the passage of HR1, the For the People Act. The passage of HR1 would move forward efforts to strengthen our democracy and the right to vote, comparable to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In fact, some of the most important provisions from the Voting Rights Act have been gutted in recent years, in particular section 5 which required states and localities with a history of racial discrimination to get permission from the federal government to enact any changes to their voting laws, a process that came to be known as “preclearance.”

The For the People Act contains an extensive number of reforms that would as described by the Brennan Center for Justice, “make it easier to vote in federal elections, end congressional gerrymandering, overhaul federal campaign finance laws, increase safeguards against foreign interference, strengthen government ethics rules, and more.” 

SUPPORT OF HR1 IMPERATIVE AHEAD OF NATIONAL REDISTRICTING PROCESS

Now, as the once-in-a-decade process of redistricting approaches (where states across the U.S. redraw Congressional districts using the newest Census data), the protections offered by the For The People Act becomes even more important to ensure voting rights are protected for all people. In many cases, partisan commissions redraw districts to the benefit of whichever party happens to hold power in that state. SACE believes that regardless of where we live, what we look like, or what’s in our pocketbooks, WE, the voters, have a right to choose our politicians, not the other way around. 

RIGHT TO VOTE FUNDAMENTAL TO BEING AN AMERICAN

Whatever our color, background, or zip code, we value our freedoms in America and expect the freedom to vote in transparent, fair elections. We also expect our political representatives to enact the kinds of policies that the overwhelming majority of Americans support, like investments in clean energy. To make that happen, we must secure access to the ballot box for all Americans so that our elected leaders are an accurate reflection of the will of the people. 

Some in Congress are attempting to block this proposed legislation that the majority of Americans support to protect our freedom and our right to vote. This is a turning point for our nation and our democracy. The For the People Act will create national standards for all of us to safely and freely cast our ballots, have our voices heard, and elect leaders who deliver on our priorities to protect our people and our planet. 

WHERE DOES HR1 STAND NOW? WHAT’S NEXT?

The House passed HR1 in March of this year. Unfortunately, the Senate version of the For the People Act, S1, stalled on a 50-50 vote on Tuesday, June 22, unable to overcome a Republican-led filibuster with the requisite 60 votes required to even begin debate on the measure. 

The Senate is in recess from June 28-July 10, and our Senators need to hear from us during this crucial time as the deadline for democracy approaches. If you can, please call the Capitol Switchboard today at (202) 224-3121, ask to be connected to your Senators’ offices, and urge them to support the For the People Act. Find your Senator here.

Brady Watson
Kansas native Brady Watson attended Kansas State University where he received a bachelor’s degree in History, and then a master’s degree in Documentary Film and History from Syracuse University.  After…
My Profile