Advocates Call on Congress to Fund Elections Immediately – Civilrights.org

Posted By on August 6, 2020

Rep. Sewell, Calif. Secretary of State Padilla join civil rights leaders to mark the 55th anniversary of Voting Rights Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact: Kiren Marshall,The Leadership Conference, [emailprotected], 202.780.9835Jackie McGuinness, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07), [emailprotected], 202.480.3459Sam Mahood, California Secretary of State Padilla, [emailprotected], 916.653.6575Marc Banks, NAACP, [emailprotected], 443.608.4073Keri Gray, American Association of People with Disabilities, [emailprotected], 202.521.4310Helen Butler, Georgia Coalition for the Peoples Agenda, [emailprotected], 404.314.8982

WASHINGTON Civil rights advocates hosted a press briefing call today to outline the need for immediate election funding in the new COVID-19 relief package to protect the integrity of the general election. Speakers included Rep. Terri Sewell and Calif. Secretary of State Alex Padilla, as well as leaders from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP, American Association of People with Disabilities, and the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples Agenda.

To hear a recording of the call, click here.

The Senate must immediately include $3.6 billion in the next COVID-19 package to ensure safeguards for our democracy during the pandemic and beyond. That includes mandating that states establish vital protections for voters and a range of options to ensure every person can safely cast a ballot in a way that works for them. Without a functional democracy in which everyone is included, heard, and represented, we cannot make real progress on civil and human rights issues like affordable health care, fair wages, educational equity, and justice reform, said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell said, It would be impossible to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 without acknowledging the passing of my dear friend and voting rights hero, John Lewis. Not only must Mitch McConnell take up and pass the John Robert Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020 which has been sitting on his desk since December 2019 he ought to support the VoteSafe Act that requires states to permit no-excuse mail-in absentee voting for the 2020 elections and an early in-person voting period of at least 20 days for the 2020 elections. Ensuring free and fair elections is the cornerstone of our democracy and, right now, too many Americans are being left behind.We must recommit ourselves to John Lewis vision of America, and restore the promise of voter equality!

CongressmanJohn Lewis and many others marchedand bledso that every citizen could exercise their right to vote.This November, wemustnotforce American citizens intohaving to choose between exercising their right to vote or protectingtheir health and that of their loved ones. We must honor the spirit of Congressman Lewis and the spirit of the Voting Rights Act by offering voterssafe options for casting their ballot, beginning with no-excusevote-by-mail. AndCongress must act to provide thefunding necessary for state and local elections officials to administeraccessible, secure, and safe elections, said Alex Padilla, California secretary of state.

The onslaught against protections for voters of color continues to intensify as we move closer to November, said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest across the country, it has been made abundantly clear that the peoples voice and vote require immediate restoration. The disintegration of voting rights has disproportionately affected Black voters; we must work diligently to curtail the consequences and place the power back in the hands of the electorate.

Maria Town, president and CEO, American Association of People with Disabilities, said, People with disabilities frequently encounter barriers to our participation in the democratic process from inaccessible polling places to inoperable accessible voting machines to discriminatory voter ID laws. During the pandemic, a shift to vote by mail presents additional barriers and will not be accessible to many in the disability community. States need funding to ensure they can execute accessible vote by mail programs and maintain safe, accessible and fair in person early and election day voting.

As evidenced by the many problems with vote by mail, lack of poll workers, insufficient polling locations, equipment problems, and long lines that happened in the June 9 primary in Georgia, it is imperative that Congress provide funding for elections in November so that both voters and election officialshave sufficient personal protective equipment and voting can be conducted in a safe, accessible, and secure manner. A few of the critical needs for funding are drop boxes,recruitment of poll workers, scanners that can handle large numbers of paper ballots,postage for vote by mail ballots,increased funding for the postal service to be able to deliver voters ballots in a timely manner, and security of voting systems, said Helen Butler, executive director, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples Agenda.

In addition, to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, the following groups are joining The Leadership Conference in engaging in a day of action tomorrow, August 6, as they continue advocating for congressional funding to ensure safe and accessible elections this year:

ACLUAction Group NetworkADL (Anti-Defamation League)Alaskans Take A StandAmerican Federation of TeachersAmericans for Democratic Action (ADA)Andrew Goodman FoundationArab American InstituteBlack Women RisingBlue FutureBradyCampus Vote ProjectCenter for American ProgressCenter for Disability RightsClean Elections TexasClimate Reality Action FundColor Of ChangeCommon CauseCommunications Workers of AmericaDaily KosDeclaration for American DemocracyDemcast USADemocracy 21Democracy InitiativeEnd Citizens United / Let America Vote Action FundFranciscan Action NetworkGeneration ProgressGreenpeace USAHAZMAT AmericaImpact FundIn Our Own Voice: Black Womens Reproductive Justice AgendaIndivisibleLawyers for Good GovernmentLet Nevadans VoteLittle LobbyistsMALDEFMissouri Voter Protection CoalitionMovement Advancement ProjectNAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.National Association of Social WorkersNational Council of Jewish WomenNational Urban League Young ProfessionalsNETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social JusticeOxfam AmericaPFAWPlanned Parenthood Action FundPoligon Education FundProgressive Turnout ProjectPublic CitizenReligious Action Center of Reform JudaismService Employees International Union (SEIU)Stand Up AmericaTexas Progressive Action NetworkUnidosUSUnion of Concerned ScientistsUnited Methodist Church General Board of Church and SocietyWhen We All VoteYWCA USA

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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals.For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visitwww.civilrights.org.

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Advocates Call on Congress to Fund Elections Immediately - Civilrights.org

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