Every American deserves to have to be fairly represented, regardless of where they live, the size of their wallets or the color of their skin. Martin Luther King, John Lewis, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer and many others dedicated their lives to securing and protecting the right to vote for millions of Americans, disenfranchised as a result of their race, economic status, or gender. And yet this fundamental right remains under attack.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, as of mid-February there were over 253 bills introduced in 43 states, including Pennsylvania to restrict voter participation. This national campaign of voter suppression makes legislation currently before Congress essential. The For the People Act would enact commonsense reforms to make voting easier as well as protect voters of color from racial discrimination in voting.
Passed by the House (H.R. 1), and currently under review in the Senate (S.B. 1), the bill will ensure greater transparency and fairness in the conduct of our elections. It will require states to have fair processes for drawing legislative districts. This is extremely important in Pennsylvania, where state legislative districts are gerrymandered to allow a minority of Pennsylvania voters to control our state legislature without competition.
S.B. 1 would enable automatic voter registration of eligible Americans when they provide information to government agencies or public universities and require every state to provide no-excuse, mail-in voting. It would allow same-day voter registration, make it more difficult for states to purge people from voter registration records and mandate voting systems that require a paper trail.
During the 2020 general election, we saw relentless and unprecedented efforts to suppress votes from communities of color. Recently passed voter restriction laws in Georgia and elsewhere make it abundantly clear that sweeping, systemic change is needed to ensure that every voter can readily access the ballot box and make their vote count.
If you agree, please contact Sen. Pat Toomey and ask him to support S.B. 1, the For The People Act. You can send him your message at: https://www.toomey.senate.gov/contact/email-senator-toomey, or call his Erie office at 814-453-3010.
Editor's note: Bowman is president of the Meadville branch of the NAACP.