Every American should be alarmed at the efforts to restrict access to free, fair and accessible voting that are gaining momentum across the country.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice (https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-laws-roundup-march-2021) 361 bills have been introduced in 47 states, all designed to restrict access, increase voting requirements, or introduce mechanisms that give undue control to the party in power within a state’s government. Limiting absentee voting, expanding voter roll purges, and reducing early voting and voting hours are just a few of the provisions being advanced in these bills, with Georgia, Florida, Texas and Arizona among the states moving most rapidly to pass such legislation.
It is too easy to shake our heads and think there is nothing we can do about it. After all, our own Senators and Representatives are not supporting such anti-democracy actions. But in fact there are actions we can take. And if we care about the future of our democracy, we cannot sit on the sidelines. We can contact voters in states where state legislators are acting to suppress the vote, to share information about these suppression efforts and what they can to about it. And we can advocate for national bills now in Congress to protect voters’ rights and assure fair representation across the country.
To help connect our community with national efforts to support and strengthen our democracy and fight voter suppression, SOMA Action has formed a new committee, the Democracy Action Committee. The committee will kick-off its work this Saturday, May 8th, noon to 2 pm, as we join with hundreds of other groups around the country to celebrate the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day. We will set up information tables at two locations in our towns: on Sloan Street by the South Orange train station and at the Open Air Retail Market at Yale St. and Springfield Ave. All community members are urged to drop by, with masks on, to learn more and to get information on how each of us can take action.
It is up to us – all of us — to make good on Benjamin Franklin’s warning about American democracy: We have ourselves a Republic, if we can keep it.
Valyrie Laedlein, Member of the Democracy Action Committee of SOMA Action