Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, praised the passage of a bill by House Democrats that includes expansions of voting rights, a major overhaul of campaign finance regulations and changes to redistricting rules. Proponents claim that the legislation, HR1, known as the For the People Act, will remove impediments to voting, while Republican opponents to the bill say it is federal overreach into state-run elections.
“As the proud U.S. Representative of Alabama’s Civil Rights District, it is my honor to be the lead sponsor of HR4, The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, which along with HR1, will restore democracy for the people,” Sewell said:
“HR1 contains the full provisions of the Voter Empowerment Act that was authored by the Honorable Congressman John Lewis and would finally address the systemic and institutional barriers to voting.”
“As we are seeing in state legislatures across the country and in cases before the Supreme Court just this week, the right to vote is under attack. Old battles have become new again. Voter suppression is alive and well,” Sewell said. “This legislation will work to eliminate voter suppression to ensure that every American can fully participate in our democracy.”
Sewell said that key provisions of HR1, the For the People Act, include:
- Expanding automatic voter registration and same day registration.
- Strengthening vote by mail, early voting and ballot access.
- Combating voter intimidation and voter suppression.
- Protecting elections from foreign interference.
HR1 includes restoring federal voting rights to people with felony convictions; modernizing voter registration and absentee ballot systems; reforming redistricting; ending partisan and prison gerrymandering; and combating discriminatory voter purges.
Now, the legislation heads to the U.S. Senate.
The SPLC Action Fund also supports the legislation. Nancy Abudu is the deputy legal director of voting rights for the SPLC Action Fund:
“The need for HR1 couldn’t be clearer — or more urgent. Today’s vote represents a giant step forward in improving access to the ballot across the country, but particularly here in the Deep South — the birthplace of the modern voting rights movement — where it is still much too hard to vote,” Abudu said in a statement. “The 2020 election season, in which election officials in many southern states failed to protect voters and their loved ones during a deadly pandemic, revealed not only deep faults in our electoral system, but also the resilience and dedication of voters in the Deep South. Only through bold, decisive action can federal lawmakers ensure that voters everywhere are protected from efforts to exclude them from the political process.”
“State legislators and officials here in the Deep South have resisted for decades commonsense reforms like online voter registration and automatic voter registration while advancing and maintaining voter suppression policies like felony disenfranchisement, restrictive photo ID laws, massive voter purges, and polling place closures,” Abudu continued. “Democracy reform is therefore urgent in the Deep South, where voters have also been without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for nearly eight years. Right now, state legislatures are attempting to further roll back access to the ballot, justifying these new attacks on the right to vote with decades-old lies about voter fraud reinvigorated in recent months by far-right conspiracy theorists and extremists. The Supreme Court, meanwhile, just heard a case that challenges Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act — one of the most powerful tools we still have to defeat racial discrimination in voting.”
“HR1 would roll back discriminatory practices that have harmed voters and citizens of color. Among other provisions, it would restore federal voting rights to people with felony convictions, modernize voter registration and absentee ballot systems, reform redistricting, end partisan and prison gerrymandering, and combat illegal and discriminatory voter purges,” Abudu stated. “The For the People Act is overwhelmingly popular among Americans of all ideologies and political persuasions. More than two-thirds of Americans, including more than half of all Republicans, support HR1. It represents a transformative, popular vision for our democracy that would ease access to the ballot box, protect against voter suppression, and significantly modernize elections around the country. With the House passing the For the People Act, we are taking the next step forward in protecting voters and our democracy for future generations. The Senate must follow suit and immediately pass the For the People Act so it can be signed into law.”
Sewell is serving in her sixth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.