Pelle Lowe: Protecting voters’ rights

Published: 11/30/2021 11:51:28 AM
Modified: 11/30/2021 11:50:56 AM

On Nov. 13, over 40 citizens from Northampton and surrounding areas gathered on the steps of City Hall to raise awareness of the need to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, now languishing in the Senate. As I write this, hundreds of people are risking arrest in Washington D.C. to tell President Biden to address this urgent need.

At least 19 states have already passed 33 voter suppression laws. The Freedom to Vote Act ensures that all Americans have equal access to voting and levels the playing field with uniform federal election laws across the whole country. It blocks states from making laws that make voting harder and subjects any new laws to heightened scrutiny by the courts. Election Day would be a public holiday.

Some of the provisions of the Freedom to Vote Act are:

■Uniform standards for voter identification in states that already have a voter ID requirement.

■Automatic voter registration through state DMVs and online voter registration.

■ At least 15 consecutive days of early in-person voting, including two weekends.

■ No-excuse mail-in voting, with free postage for ballots and accessible drop boxes.

■ Protections for people with unique challenges, including people with disabilities, Native Americans and underserved communities.

■Nonpartisan criteria for redistricting to decrease gerrymandering. Voting systems with a paper trail to strengthen the security of voting systems and records.

■Reducing the influence of money in elections with more disclosure of donations.

■Protection of election officials from partisan interference and election workers from intimidation.

Deb Paul, chairperson of the Indivisible Mass Coalition, writes: “Extremist state legislators have spent the last year putting up barriers to voting in one state after another. These legislatures are now drawing districts, carving up communities and attempting to drown out the voices of millions of American voters for the next decade. With the 2022 midterm elections quickly approaching, it’s critical that President Biden takes action to protect our freedom to vote and realize the promise of democracy for all.”

We suggest that everyone tell President Biden to do everything possible to get this bill passed.

Pelle Lowe

Northampton


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