Delaware Faith Leaders Urge New Federal Voting Laws

Letter from 40+ signers delivered to Sen. Coons

More than 40 Delaware clergy and faith leaders joined together in a letter to U.S. Senators Chris Coons and Tom Carper, thanking them for their support of federal voting legislation and asking them to “actively support filibuster reform so that the bills can get passed and onto President Biden’s desk for a signature.” 

The letter was delivered to Sen. Coons’s Wilmington office yesterday by five of the faith leaders and witnessed by representatives of Delaware Interfaith Power & Light, Common Cause Delaware, Sierra Club Delaware Chapter, and Indivisible Highlands and Beyond. 

Courtesy photos from the event are available here.

Video interviews with event participants are available here.

The faith leaders’ letter says both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act “are necessary to save democratic self-government, and neither will pass unless the Senate revises the filibuster.” 

Last month, Sen. Carper told Delaware News Journal readers that “No barrier — not even the filibuster — must stop our obligation to our democracy.” Read his op-ed here

“We were delighted to hear from Sen. Carper that he would not let an arcane Senate parliamentary rule stand in the way of getting these bills passed,” said Claire Snyder-Hall, Executive Director of Common Cause Delaware. “We appreciate that both of our Senators support both of these bills – and we urge both of them to do everything they can to get the bills to the President’s desk so they can be signed into law.”

“Our democracy is sacred, and voting is a sacred act. We must value the voices of everyone in our communities, not just the most powerful. As people of faith and as your constituents, we ask that you strongly and publicly support filibuster reform to pass the Freedom to Vote Act,” the faith leaders’ letter says. “The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore important safeguards designed to prevent the return of Jim Crow-style voting restrictions.”

“All of our faith traditions have teachings about the need to care for our neighbors, and care for the sacred planet we share. The faith community affirms that every human being is a person of dignity and worth. In a secular democracy, fair and just democratic systems are central to the assertion of that dignity and worth,” the leaders say. “All over the country, anti-voter extremists in state legislatures have been changing laws to make it more difficult for Black and brown Americans to cast their ballots, and attacks on the freedom to vote continue. These assaults threaten our democracy and the well-being of our people hangs in the balance — especially in communities of color. Millions of Americans, particularly in marginalized Black and Brown communities, will have their votes suppressed, if leaders fail to pass federal protections and standards of access for exercising our sacred right to vote.”

“Free and fair voting is as important to a healthy democracy as faith in God is during a prayer,” said Charanjeet Singh Minhas, chairman of the Delaware Sikh Awareness Coalition. “All and everything should be done to ensure all eligible voters have easy and convenient access to voting. The Freedom to Vote Act is a powerful step toward that goal.”

“It is very clear that we are our ‘brother and sister’s keeper’ and we are to ‘love our neighbors as ourselves.’ Both of these Biblical quotes are a moral call to us to provide opportunities to VOTE for all adult citizens,” said Rev. Dr. Lyle J. Dykstra, retired PCUSA Pastor. “Therefore, early voting opportunities, vote by mail, multiple voting locations in densely populated areas, to name a few, are needed procedures.”

“We appreciate our Senators’ support for these bills, but we need the legislation to get to the President’s desk,” said Shweta Arya, Executive Director of Delaware Interfaith Power & Light, which sponsored the letter. “Because of the new anti-voter bills, some of our brothers and sisters in other states were disenfranchised in recent elections. It’s time for federal legislation to set minimum standards for elections, so that every voter can freely and safely cast their ballot, no matter what color their skin is, or what state they live in.”

Sen. Carper recently met with coalition members to discuss the legislation. The letter asks Sen. Coons to hold a similar meeting. 

Read the letter and the list of signers here.