Millions of Americans marched nationwide, thousands marched in D.C. and hundreds marched in Atlanta to demand that the U.S. Senate pass S1 For the People’s Act and S4 the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect voting rights.
S. 1 will strengthen and protect voting rights, end extreme partisan gerrymandering, shine a light on big and dark money in politics, and clean up the corruption in Washington.
S. 4 will restore and strengthen parts of the 1964 voting Rights Act. It will require that certain states pre-clear certain changes to their voting laws with the federal government.
Voter Suppression Bills.
In 2013 the Supreme Court dealt a blow to voting rights when they struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act. This section determined which jurisdictions had to pre-clear election-related changes in states that historically discriminated against African Americans.
Republican state lawmakers took advantage of this Supreme Court decision – after Trump lost the election – to introduce voter suppression and/or election nullifications laws in 49 states to rig the next election in their favor.
The two major Democratic holdouts to passing S1 and S4 are Senators Joe Manchin (W.VA.) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) who believe that voting rights should be bipartisan and that the filibuster is key to making bipartisanship possible.
Obviously, they don’t know the history of civil and voting rights which has always been mostly partisan. The 14th, 15th, and 13th Amendments which are the constitutional foundations for civil and voting rights in America were NOT passed on a bipartisan basis.
Or maybe they have not noticed that Republican lawmakers in 49 state capitol are trying to pass voter suppression bills and election nullification laws that are partisan. Georgia already has passed such a bill, SB 202.
The most dangerous part of SB 202 is that it allows the Republican-controlled legislature to appoint county election boards members, creating an election system that allows for election nullification.
“They’re trying to set the stage for a hostile takeover of our election system because they want a political win to appease believers of [Trump’s] Big Lie,” Fulton County Commission Rob Pitts said on national television.
This law allows Republican-controlled state capitols to find an excuse to overturn an election if they don’t like the outcome. If that happens it will be the end of democracy.
The filibuster has a racist history. In the early 19th century it was used by pro-slavery senators to protect the interests of Southern white landowners who depended on slave labor. Between 1917 and 1994, the filibuster was used to block anti-lynching bills, the Civil Rights Act of 1957, legislation to prohibit poll taxes, and legislation to outlawed discrimination in employment, housing, and voting, according to the Brennan Center for Justice
“It’s time for Joe Biden to say the filibuster be damned, we must pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People’s Act,” Ben Jealous, former National President of the NAACP, said at the King Center.
“If Donald Trump can tell his Senate to get the filibuster out of the way to pack the Supreme Court with four right-wing justices who do not represent the mores of the American people. I think Joe Biden can say get the filibuster out of the way so we can save our democracy,” Jealous said.
The Intercept leaked a tape of Senator Joe Manchin talking with big-money donors with No Labels about flipping votes on the January 6 Commission in order to save the filibuster and to strip the “far-left” of their best argument against the filibuster
March On For Voting Rights In Atlanta
Democrats are rightly upset that these laws target African Americans, Latinos, Asians, young people who mostly vote democratic. People are on the march throughout the nation to stop this unconstitutional manipulation of voting laws that threatens the very foundations of democracy.
In Atlanta, hundreds gathered at the King Center where many people spoke out against these anti-voting bills.
O.J. Semans from the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation said, “The reason they don’t want you to vote is the fact that you are going to demand equality for all. We’ve taken our arrows and our guns and we replaced them with pens and pencils at the ballot. “
Georgia State Rep. William Boddie (D-Atlanta) gave a short history of SB 202, the anti-voting bill. On Monday, March 23, SB 202 was introduced into the House as a two-page bill. When it left the House Committee on Wednesday, it was a 98-page bill. It made it to the House Rules on Thursday, March 26 where it passed in the House against objections of my caucus. It was transferred to the Republican-controlled Senate and passed out of the Georgia Senate and went to Governor Brian Kemp’s desk where it was immediately signed into law. It went from the House to the Senate to the Governor and into law within seven hours on Thursday, March 26.
Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta) said, “it is serious business when people are taking away the rights of voters of all creeds, and all backgrounds and communities.” She wanted to witness what was going on in the Governor’s office, so she knocked on the door. Instead of welcoming her in, she was illegally arrested, handcuffed, dragged out of the capitol, taken to jail, and charged with a felony. Charges have since been dropped.
Why were these nine white men so afraid of a Black woman witnessing what they were doing that they had her arrested? Probably because they knew what they were doing was wrong and based on a lie that was not only unconstitutional but immoral.
Civil rights groups filed federal lawsuits against Georgia’s sweeping law, SB 202, which makes it much harder for all Georgians to vote.
“We thought we had settled the issue of voting rights in 1965 and in 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000. But now we are still fighting for the basic freedom to exercise the right to vote that should be available to all American citizens. Our parents and grandparents fought and died to dismantle Jim Crow and they did not die for us to return to these laws again,” Michale Eric Dyson, a professor at Vanderbilt University, a social and political analyst, said on a taped message at the King Center.
“We have been on the front line forever fighting to make sure the rules are applied fairly. We have been fighting vicious tactics such as robocalls to black citizens to make them believe that the date of the election was changed, closing polling places, restricting mail-in voting, creating longer lines to vote, and criminalizing food and water for those standing in long lines…. Our ancestors knew this was a marathon, not a sprint,” Dyson said.
“Today, I’m reminded of an American poet and entertainer, Marvin Gaye, and his song “What’s Going On?” Atlanta City Councilman, Andre Dickens said.
“Today across the nation so many state lawmakers are trying to prevent people from voting. They banned the dropbox, reduced early voting days and hours, made it hard for people to even get a mail-in ballot, and appointed partisan election review boards. What’s going on?” Dickens asked.
This is what’s going on. It’s about the GOP being mad that their guy did not win, it’s about the “Big Lie” they are trying to turn into reality, and afraid of the record turn-out in 2020, and worried about the changing demographics in the nation.
Democrats turned out in record numbers because people saw what Trump was doing to the country. His unending lies about everything, authoritarian tendencies, disregard for the rule of law, open racism, and downplaying the COVID pandemic that killed one-half million Americans. This is why there was such a huge turnout and this is why Democrats won in a fair election.
Now the GOP is trying to prevent us from voting because they know they can’t win on policy or with Trump or a Trump-like type. His cult is loyal and dedicated but they are not the majority in the country. This is why they need to stop people of color, other minorities, young voters, and new voters from voting in the next election. The GOP knows the only way they can win is to stop Democrats from voting.
Rev. Mark Dawson, co-chair of the Atlanta Black Jewish Coalition. shares a positive dream with the crowd at the King Center. “We dream where the guilty are held accountable. we dreamed where obstacles of voting are removed and not erected. We dream where all citizens have their right to say and participate in our democracy through fair, open, and equitable access to the polls. We dream where white supremacy is not a badge of honor, but a blight, a blight on the nation’s character. We dream where that no longer exists. We dream of where we can celebrate our similarities and learn from our differences. That’s the dream that we dream.”
Voter Suppression and Nullification of Elections laws are all over the country
It’s not just Georgia passing voter suppression and nullification of elections laws, many other states have already passed similar bills into law.
In Texas, Democrats left the state and traveled to Washington, D.C. in an effort to block a GOP attempt to pass voting restrictions in the special legislative session.
In Arizona, we have an insane audit in Maricopa county that never ends. Certified auditors, accountants, and forensic auditors say it is not an audit. Others call it what it really is, a fraudit.
Trump, after he lost the election, worked his supporters into a murderous rage and sent them to the U.S. Capitol to stop elected officials from counting the Electoral College Votes to make Joe Biden President of the United States.
All of these reasons are why millions of people all over the country are marching and demanding the U.S. Senate pass S1 and S4 to stop all the lies and draconian tactics of Trump’s Republican Party to stop folks from voting.
In the words of the late, great U.S. Congressman John Lewis, “We will never go back, we will never give up…Get in good trouble and help redeem the soul of America.”
Written and Photos by Gloria Tatum except for the cartoon that was shared on-line.