Voting rights activists, including Linda Napier from Sun City West, a member of the League of Women Voters-Northwest Maricopa County, plus a contingency of league members from across Arizona, traveled to Washington, D.C. Aug. 24 to make their voices heard.
“It was an honor to be advocating for all Arizonans, and all the people of our country, so they can take part in our democracy and vote without barriers”, said Napier.
The LWV, along with their allies at People For the American Way, hosted a rally and protested in front of the White House, demanding President Joe Biden and his administration take swift action and use the full extent of their power to ensure the passage of voter’s rights legislation. The rally — billed “No More Excuses: Voting Rights Now!” — called on the administration to bring lawmakers together and work to remove all obstacles standing in the way of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
“It is time President Biden lives up to his promise to make voting rights a priority of this administration,” said Virginia Kase Solomón, League of Women Voters of the United States CEO. “Mr. President, you have the power to bring lawmakers together from both sides of the aisle and ensure these voting rights bills become law. Now is the time. The American people are counting on you.”
Charly Carter, Democracy Initiative executive, said in 1965 President Lyndon Johnson negotiated, twisted arms and did whatever it took to ensure passage of the Voting Rights Act.
“Like President Biden, President Johnson confronted implacable opposition and seemingly impossible procedural obstacles. Unlike President Biden — so far — he did not allow these hurdles to stand in the way of taking action to protect the right to vote,” Carter said. “This is President Biden’s Lyndon Johnson moment; history will not be kind if he fails to show leadership.”
The Democracy Initiative represents 75 labor, civil rights and environmental groups with a combined membership of 45 million people.
“Our democracy is facing the greatest threat of our lifetimes. President Biden must let nothing stand in the way of protecting our freedom to vote and ensuring fair elections,” said Jana Morgan, Declaration for American Democracy Coalition director. “We need national standards to ensure that we can safely and freely cast our ballots, have our voices heard and elect leaders who deliver on our priorities. President Biden, failure is not an option.”
In response to the protest, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated President Biden stands by the activists and their vocal calls for more and for forward action.
“I would say he’s with them,” she stated.
Later that same day, the U.S. House of Representatives took a major step forward in their work towards voter equality by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This essential legislation would restore the Voting Rights Act and its protections regarding discrimination against voters of color.
“We commend the House on passing this critical piece of legislation. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate is deadlocked on voting rights, which is why the League of Women Voters is calling on the White House to bring lawmakers together, remove the obstacles in the way and work collectively on behalf of the American voters to see this legislation become law.” said Dr. Deborah Ann Turner, LWVUS president.