Our Democracy is in Danger, But You Can Help Save It
By Jenna Israel, Communications Intern
As a young person, it often feels like there’s not a lot you can do to change a world that seems like it’s not listening to you. But for me, helping other people vote, engage their government, and make their voices heard is my activity of choice during my free time. It is empowering.
One of the most heartbreaking things to hear when speaking to people in my community is that someone won’t vote. Sometimes it’s because they can’t. Maybe they’ve lost their right to vote as the result of incarceration. Or maybe they can’t get to the polling location because of a disability or because the poll is too far away. Or maybe they don’t have time to stand in line for hours to vote. These challenges disproportionately impact Black and Brown communities and weaken their voice in our political process.
There can be no doubt that the voting rights of Black and Brown Americans are still under attack. Forty-eight states have passed or introduced 389 laws since 2013 to make it harder for these communities to vote.
Today is actually the eight-year anniversary of the Shelby County v. Holder decision, which weakened Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the crowning achievements of the Civil Rights Movement. Next week, we expect the Supreme Court to announce its decision on Brnovitch v. DNC, a case that could weaken Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the provision that bars discrimination against people of color in state and local election laws.
With a wave of voter suppression sweeping the country, it is no wonder that communities of color are advocating for the passage of federal legislation like the For the People Act, which would end partisan gerrymandering, restore the voting rights of Returning Citizens and those with felony convictions, and generally improve access to the ballot box. Advocates are also calling for the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would reinvigorate the parts of the Voting Rights Act that the Shelby Supreme Court decision weakened.
Despite these challenges to voting rights expansion, there is still a lot we can do. Organizing remains critically important and it is inspiring to see so many people attend events like the Black Voters Matter Freedom Ride Bus Tour—including staff at Advancement Project National Office! On Monday, they traveled to Atlanta to join the bus tour and support our partners in the fight against voter suppression.
The Freedom Ride isn’t over! You can join Advancement Project and our partners at the final stop in Washington, D.C. this Saturday from 12-4pm at the National Mall between 3rd and 4th St SW. RSVP here and show up to make your voice heard! Can’t make it in-person? You can still participate by sharing why voting rights matter on social media using #FreedomRide2021. Together, we can demand a more just and inclusive democracy we can all believe in.
Jenna Israel is a Communications Intern at Advancement Project and a recent graduate of Brown University. Connect with her on Twitter @Jenna_Israel.