Defending Voting Rights Means Ending the Filibuster
We urgently need federal action to counter state-level attacks on our right to vote.
So far this year, Republicans in states across the country have enacted at least 33 laws restricting access to voting—including mail-in voting, in-person voting, and voter registration—or enabling the overturning of valid election results verified by local nonpartisan election officials.
As we saw here in majority-Black Detroit in 2020’s elections, the GOP will likely use these bills to try to take away Black Americans’ votes, next year and beyond.
We already have federal bills to expand and protect our voting rights, which would overturn these state-level voter suppression bills. But Senators blocked these bills four times this year— using the filibuster, which requires a supermajority of 60 votes in order to even bring legislation to the floor for debate or a vote.
It’s not a surprise that the filibuster is being used to block civil rights protections. A tool from the Jim Crow era, it’s been used many times to delay or block Black Americans’ rights. The tool protects the unjust status quo and enables a small minority to keep impeding the will of the American people. It’s time to get rid of it.
The filibuster is a tool of obstruction. It closes off debate and enables minority rule within an already-undemocratic institution: the Senate.
Each state gets two votes in the Senate, despite huge variations in population size—unlike the more democratic House of Representatives (which ended the use of a filibuster over 100 years ago). That disadvantages more populous states, which are more racially diverse.
So Senate Democrats currently in office represent 41.5 million more people than do Senate Republicans—even though they hold the same number of seats in the Senate.
But with a 50-50 split, Vice President Harris can be a tie-breaker. That means we have a slim Senate majority, and we owe it to the American people to use it. Americans, particularly Black Americans, came out in historic numbers last November to vote despite a pandemic, and Democrats promised them that we would make urgent changes to our broken system.
We have a narrow window of time to make the changes that the majority of people want and deserve before the upcoming midterm elections.
As right-wing, racist election conspiracies spread, it’s clear that the GOP will keep trying to secure power at the expense of our democracy, our rights, and our lives.
Unless we pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
These federal voting rights policies would set national standards for elections administration that would override states’ wave of voter suppression bills, and make voting easier for everyone. For example, the Freedom to Vote Act would make Election Day a holiday, guarantee access to early and mail voting, enable automatic and same-day voter registration, and prevent partisan gerrymandering.
But it’s clear these policies won’t pass with the current filibuster rules and Republican obstructionism.
I ran for office to ensure our government reflects the will of the people. Communities like mine have gone unheard for far too long, and I’m going to keep fighting until we all get the representation we deserve.