By Ramona du Houx

On January 11, 2022, during a speech in the late Congressman John Lewis’ district, President Biden and Vice President Harris called on the Senate to change the Senate rules to pass the Freedom To Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

“The right to vote and have that vote count, it is democracy’s threshold liberty. Without it, nothing is possible. But with it, anything is possible,” said President Biden.

This marks the first time President Biden has publicly called on the Senate to change the filibuster. With the filibuster’s present rules the Senate needs a super majority to pass any legislation, that means 60 votes. In all other votes in our democracy a majority wins. So, the Senate is letting a minority govern outcomes when the rule should be that 51 votes wins – because that is the majority.

“Sadly, the United States Senate, designed to be the world’s greatest deliberative body, has been rendered a shell of its former self,” Biden said Tuesday. “As an institutionalist, I believe that the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills, debate them, vote. Let the majority prevail. And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this.”

Senate Democrats must heed the calls from President Biden, Vice President Harris, and the tens of millions of Americans who voted for them to get the job done.

Workers mural at the Maine State Public Library in Augusta, Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said he believed the upcoming vote would be the most important one he takes in his life adding, “It’s ironic in the extreme to enshrine the principle of bipartisanship here in the Senate to the extent that we can’t repair damage done to the democracy by 100-percent partisan legislatures around the country, In other words, if bipartisanship is a principle here in Washington, it ought to be in Atlanta and Concord and the other state capitals in the country.”

Senate Republicans need to step up to the plate too. It is incumbent on them to live up to the vow they made to, “defend and protect our democracy from foreign and domestic threats.”

There is no greater threat to our liberties than to take away voting rights that so many have fought for. We fought a Civil War, fought to abolish Jim Crow laws, fought for Civil Rights, which included voting rights and now the right that our democracy guarantees is under threat like never before.

The Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) will preempt the hundreds of state bills that could otherwise keep millions of people from voting in upcoming elections, put in place more checks and balances, prevent future attempts to undermine and attack our elections, and more.

Thee are 16 sitting Senators who voted to uphold these voting rights during the Bush administration. Why aren’t they voting for them now? Ask your Republican Senator.

Ask Sen. Susan Collins why she isn’t voting for equal opportunity at the ballot box. She needs to do the right thing.

Safeguarding and strengthening our democracy from dangerous attacks – attacks that have drastically intensified since an attempted coup driven is paramount,

American democracy is not a guarantee. We have to continue to fight for our right to vote or we will loose our democracy.

The Freedom To Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, will begin to restore the unmet promise of our democracy and create our future .

Navigator poll conducted late last year found that a majority of Americans support the Freedom to Vote Act, and more than two in three support each provision in the legislation. The VRAA is supported by 70 percent of voters nationwide, according to a survey conducted by Lake Research in 2021. 

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