‘Voices for Democracy’ Car Parade Urges Senators Coons and Carper to ‘do everything in their power’ to get Pro-Voter Bills to President Biden’s Desk

Delawareans joined in a “car parade” yesterday to visit their US Senators’ offices in support of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

“Whatever issues we care most about – our ‘government for the People’ isn’t going to work if our elected officials don’t have to answer to voters,” said Claire Snyder-Hall, Director of Common Cause Delaware. “Gerrymandering allows politicians to pick their voters – rather than we the voters picking our politicians. It needs to be stopped now, while legislative maps are still being drawn, so people around the country don’t have to live with unfair maps for the next decade. The anti-voter bills being passed in other states also allow politicians to pick their voters – by making it hard for specific types of voters to cast our ballots – and so we need to have national standards for minimum voting access. Our government ‘by the people’ is slipping away. We need federal legislation to ensure that we have a government centered on the voters, rather than the special interests. That’s why we’re working so hard to get the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act passed.”

The parade featured decorated cars that transported voters to the two Senate offices to present postcard “quilts” and petitions supporting the two bills. Courtesy photos are available here.

Delawareans from all over the state signed the petitions and wrote postcards to their senators at community events, as well as through grassroots organizations including Indivisible Highlands & Beyond, Common Cause Delaware, Stand Up for Racial Justice – Sussex County, the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice, Unitarian Universalists Delaware Action Network, Stand Indivisible – No Borders, and Delaware Women for Inclusion.

“Like others in our Indivisible group, I care about many critical issues we are facing — but none of them are as fundamental to our future as ensuring that we continue as a democracy, where all citizens are encouraged to vote and their votes are all counted,” said Anne Elminger, one of the voters who organized the parade. “In such times, we have to speak up and make noise.  That’s why we chose to use the car parade to deliver our postcards to Senators Coons and Carper.”

The car parade started at Delaware Technical Community College’s Wilmington campus and then headed to the Wilmington offices of US Senators Coons and Carper.

“We recognize and thank Senators Coons and Carper for their support for the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” Snyder-Hall said. “The postcards and petitions include personalized messages from voters across Delaware, explaining why it is critical to pass the bills, and urging our Senators to do ‘whatever it takes’ to get the bills passed.”

On Wednesday, October 20, Republicans blocked the Senate from beginning debate on the Freedom to Vote Act, but there are still options available to pass the bill. Read more here.

“Indivisible Highlands and Beyond wants to shine a spotlight on the need for the federal government to enact voting rights protections at the national level. We wanted our Senators to know how important this is to Delawareans so we embarked on a postcard campaign, Voices for Democracy,” said Cheryl Siskin, another parade organizer. “These cards reflect various reasons why Delawareans want our Senators to vote for the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and they do not want the filibuster to be used as a tool to prevent these bills from becoming law.  We collected the postcards in a few short weeks. We did a car parade because of COVID and we wanted to make a little ‘good trouble’ to help get our Senators’ attention.” 

“It’s important that Senator Coons and Carper understand how much demand there is to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, even if it means reforming the filibuster,” said Nick Beard, who also helped organize the parade. “This is our government we’re talking about. It needs to be voter-centered, not focused on benefitting incumbents or special interests.”

“These bills will prohibit gerrymandering and ensure all voters can have our voices heard. We need the Senate to pass them now – before we’re stuck with bad maps, and before we have more elections that some voters can’t participate in because of barriers to the ballot box,” Beard said. “We appreciate our Senators’ support of both bills – but we really need to get them passed.”

Read more about the Freedom to Vote Act here and here. Read more about the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act here.

In August, Delaware’s Senate Majority Leadership and 17 other state legislators sent a letter to Senators Carper and Coons, urging them to support an earlier pro-voter bill and “do whatever it takes to pass it and get it to President Biden’s desk.”

“In Delaware, we have taken numerous steps to protect and expand the ability of our neighbors to vote in our elections,” the legislators’ letter said. “However, we are not immune to the same challenges and obstacles many other states face. We have been unable to pass no-excuse absentee voting due to Republicans who abandoned their initial support in the wake of Trump’s loss. Earlier this year, First State Republicans also sponsored a number of bills similar to the voter suppression measures being filed by their counterparts across our nation. Our country needs national standards to secure the freedom to vote.” Read more here.