Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a Federal holiday since 1986. Many school children and workplaces have the day off. More than an extra day to sleep in and binge-watch the next Netflix series, MLK day has been deemed a day of service.
Thinking back to high school and college, I can remember listening to King’s “I Had a Dream” speech and reading “Letters from Birmingham Jail” (which some politicians and school boards are now trying to ban from school curriculums). His work as a non-violent civil rights and social justice advocate led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voter Rights Act in 1965. He was the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and in 1968, he was assassinated. (https://thekingcenter.org/about-tkc/martin-luther-king-jr/). 1968, just two years before I was born. My husband was 2. This happened in our parents’ lifetime. Dr. King, isn’t a dusty, historical figure from hundreds off years ago. Many Americans can remember the events surrounding Dr. King’s life. While he furthered the rights of Black Americans in his lifetime, there is still much more work to be done. One of the key rights he worked towards was equal access to the ballot. A huge issue 57 years ago, is just as relevant today.
The right for all Americans to vote is at the core of the United States democracy. It is what makes the United States a democracy. Everyone gets to vote and the majority rules. At least, that’s the premise. In order for that to work, we have to have “Free and Fair” elections. We have to make sure that only eligible U.S. citizens vote and each person only votes once. Because of claims of mass voter fraud (the courts did not find any, nor did the multiple audits of the ballots), many states and begun enacting laws to make elections “more secure.” In actuality, these laws limit access to the polls (shortening early voting hours, eliminating polling places and drop boxes) and make it harder to vote (requiring driver’s licenses/state ID’s – these have fees so are in essence a poll tax. The lawmakers will say these laws are necessary to protect the integrity of the vote, even though there has been know proof or evidence that the integrity has ever been under threat. I am reminded of playing cards with a second-grader, who loses, throws his cards down and calls me a cheater. Losing doesn’t mean the opponent cheated. We don’t need to change the rules of the game so that the second-grader can always win.
The newly combined bill The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act is before the Senate. Republican politicians argue this bill isn’t necessary and is a Federal power-grab. States should be able to set their own election laws. They do not even want discuss the bill, which includes many provisions that many of them have voted for in the past. Why? If anything in our country should be Federally regulated, it is general election rules. We are the United States of America. The rules about voting shouldn’t change when I cross the state line.
Here are a few key components to the bill:
- Creates Election Day as a federal holiday
- Requires voter registration via the BMV in all states as well as online voter-registration and same-day voter-registration.
- Requires a minimum of 15 days of early voting, including during at least two weekends.
- Standardizes the forms of identification allowed in places where ID is required to vote.
- Restores voting rights to formerly incarcerated people convicted of felonies.
- Imposes stricter regulations on voter list maintenance
- Prohibits partisan gerrymandering
As it stands now, the bill doesn’t have much chance of passing. I am truly afraid for our country. What can I do? What can you do? MLK is deemed a day of service. I plan to contact Senator Portman and urge him to vote for this important legislature. (He’s already announced his retirement so you would think he’d do the right thing). You can contact your Senators too. It’s easy (and for introverts you don’t have to call if you don’t want to). Here’s the link: Take Action. I also intend to get more involved with When We All Vote and start a local group. If anyone in the NWO is interested in joining me, let me know!