On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act that prohibited racial discrimination in voting. It was a tremendous victory for democracy.
Yet, fifty-three years later Republicans are engaged in a shameful effort to restrict voting access telling lies about voter fraud (which remains extremely rare) and pushing laws to suppress turnout by Democratic-leaning groups, especially African Americans. It’s nothing less than an attack on democracy.
A MIT study in July 2017 found that 12 percent of the electorate in 2016 encountered problems voting. We should be concerned that the Supreme Court gutted the VRA in 2013 and we should be concerned that the Trump administration is closing civil rights offices and the Department of Justice is switching sides in voting rights cases.
Yet, if we want to fight barriers to voting, we need to vote! Democrats have a long and proud history of fighting for voting rights that continue to this day. The right to vote is fundamental. It is the right that protects and expands all other rights. It is the Democratic Party that will make it easier and more convenient to vote, not harder and more difficult.
We must support Democratic candidates for attorney general, secretary of state, and state legislative seats along with candidates for national offices in order to protect our right to vote. The need becomes more critical as we face a Republican Party intent on destroying a right that many fought and bled to achieve.
Another way to celebrate this day is to vote “yes” in November on the proposed constitutional amendment that will restore voting rights to over 1.5 million Floridians.
Your vote can protect democracy. As Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis says, “the vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society. We must use it.”