Grassroots Coalition Holds “Time to Act” Rally Urging Senator Portman to Support National Voting Rights Legislation

Columbus, OH — Today, a diverse grassroots coalition held a rally and delivered a letter to Sen. Rob Portman’s office, telling him that it’s “time to act” on the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The coalition highlighted how both pieces of legislation would help end the partisan and racial gerrymandering taking place in the current redistricting cycle. The event was part of a national week of action happening while U.S. Senators are home on their legislative break, designed to pressure them to reform the filibuster if necessary to pass critical voting rights legislation.  

“Until Congress passes strong voting rights legislation, voters will continue to be denied access to free and fair elections,” said Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio. “From the major corruption scandals to the extreme partisan gerrymandering, those in power are showing that without reform, they will continue to rig the rules of the game against the people. The Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act provide the tools we need to hold our leaders accountable and we’re counting on Senator Portman to do whatever it takes to pass the legislation.”  

The letter was signed by more than 15 organizations, including Common Cause Ohio, All Voting is Local Ohio, and the Ohio Council of Churches. It highlights the benefits of the legislation, including making it easier to vote, breaking the grip of big money in politics, and helping to curb partisan and racial gerrymandering. 

“The Freedom to Vote is essential to a healthy democracy,” said Camille Wimbish, Election Administration Director for Ohio Voice. “So far 19 states have passed laws to make voting more difficult as a result of a deliberate campaign to spread disinformation. These attacks are harmful to voters and undermine public trust in our elections. Many more states, including Ohio, could pass extreme anti-voter legislation just like Florida, Georgia, and Texas — unless we take bold action to protect our freedom to vote. We call on Senator Portman and all other members of Congress to stand up for the American people and pass the Freedom to Vote Act — before it’s too late.”  

On October 20, Republican U.S. Senators, including Sen. Portman, blocked the Senate, the world’s “greatest deliberative body,” from having a debate on the Freedom to Vote Act. Again, on November 3, every single Republican Senator but one, including Sen. Portman, blocked the U.S. Senate from beginning debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.   

“Passage of the Freedom to Vote Act is crucial for the very survival of the democratic process,” said Mark Fluharty, executive director of Central Ohio Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “As we speak, state legislatures across the country are stacking the deck against voters- gerrymandering Congressional districts for partisan gain. You don’t have to look any further than our own statehouse to watch it happen in real time. That alone is reason enough to pass this bill now.” 

Nine of the Senators who voted against beginning debate, earlier this month, had previously voted for the 2006 Voting Rights Act extension in a Republican-led Senate, including Sen. Mitch McConnell. The U.S. Senate can still pass both pieces of legislation before the end of the year, with filibuster reform. Last week, Delaware Sen. Tom Carper voiced his support for reforming the filibuster to ensure the passage of voting rights legislation. He wrote, “No barrier — not even the filibuster — must stop our obligation to our democracy.”    

To read the coalition’s letter, click here 

To learn more about the Freedom to Vote Act, click here 

To learn more about the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, click here.