WASHINGTON – Thousands of protesters gathered in Washington and other cities in the United States on Saturday to protect their voting rights. The aim is to pressure lawmakers to pass legislation in response to the wave of voting restrictions in the Republican-led states.
On the historic anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. held in Washington in March 1963, the organizers of the “Voting Rights March” stated that state-level restrictions on voting rights had a disproportionate impact on people of color.
In Washington, the protesters marched from Macpherson Square to the last assembly point on the National Mall with the banner of “Black people’s life is also life” and slogans calling for federal legislation. King published his iconic ” I have a dream” speech.
Carolyn Ruff, a 74-year-old activist, said she traveled from Chicago to Washington to promote the passage of a federal law that would restore key protections in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits discrimination Sexual voting practices.
The bill, named after the late civil rights hero John Lewis, was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives this week, but its prospects in the Senate are not good because rules there allow a few people to block legislation.
Lewis’s youngest brother urged Republican senators to put aside partisanship and pass laws, saying that the basic rights acquired in the 1960s were threatened.
“Think about it, 58 years later, we are still fighting for the same rights. It doesn’t sound right,” said Grant Lewis, one of a series of civil rights leaders speaking to the crowd. “It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you are on. It is more important to be on the right side of history.”
After Democrat Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, Republican lawmakers in many states restricted the use of drop boxes and mail voting. These moves failed after former Republican President Donald Trump tried to overturn the election based on unproven claims of widespread voter fraud.
According to data from the New York University Brennan Center for Justice, at least 18 states have enacted laws restricting voter access so far this year.
Organizers expect there will be 50,000 demonstrators in Washington. Rally was also held in Phoenix, Miami and several other cities.
In addition to the John Lewis Voting Rights Promotion Bill, the House of Representatives passed a broader voting reform bill earlier this year, but Senate Republicans blocked the bill in June, saying that voting rules should be left to the states.
The lack of meaningful Republican support seems destined to destroy any legislation in the Senate. The Senate is divided on a partisan line of 50-50, and the obstruction rule means that Democrats need to secure the votes of 10 Republicans in order to move forward.
“It’s worth it to end the obstruction”
Kathleen Kennedy, 27, said she joined the Washington march after reading a bill in Texas that attracted national attention when Democratic lawmakers fled the state to reject Republicans The quorum required to pass the bill.
The bill would ban drive-through and 24-hour voting locations, and add new identification requirements and other restrictions to mail voting. The bill was approved by the state’s House of Representatives on Friday.
“Many of these laws are being passed. The election is coming. The election will be affected by these laws,” said Kennedy, a resident near Silver Spring, Maryland. “It’s worth it to end the obstruction.”
Some speakers also put forward the idea of making the national capital the next state. An association of groups advocating the establishment of a state in Washington, DC, with 51 votes to 51 votes, was one of the main organizers of Saturday’s event.