Voting Rights Protections Must Remain the Priority as Electoral College Reform is a Hollow Bulwark Without It, Common Cause Tells Senators

Today, Common Cause is emphasizing to every U.S. Senator that voting rights protections must remain their priority and that any reforms to how electoral votes for president and vice president are counted are no substitute for the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The letter to Senators emphasizes that some legislatures across the country are already introducing new bills to make it harder for Americans to have a say in choosing their elected leaders. The new bills come on top of last year’s voter suppression push that saw 19 states enact 34 restrictive voting laws.

“Now is the moment when the rubber hits the road for democracy and the Senate must focus first and foremost on protecting the right of every American to vote,” said Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn. “Voting rights in states across the country are under siege as legislators write and pass a new generation of Jim Crow laws to determine who can and cannot vote. The Electoral Count Act does in fact need fixing, but first the Senate must pass legislation to protect the voting rights of every American – particularly Black and Brown Americans targeted by the wave of 21st Century Jim Crow laws being passed in the states.”

Senators are reminded that many of the reforms in the Freedom to Vote Act have been passed in states with strong bipartisan backing, and that as recently as 2006, the U.S. Senate unanimously amended and extended the Voting Rights Act.  The letter states emphatically that “[N]o Senate rule or loophole in its rules—including one that the Framers considered and rejected, such as a supermajority requirement to pass legislation—should stand in the way of the freedom to vote.”

The letter emphasizes that fixing the antiquated Electoral Count Act instead of passing the strong voting rights protections is a false choice. First, we must ensure that the people’s fundamental right to vote and to have fair representation is protected. Voting rights must be the priority Common Cause stresses in the letter, which urges all senators, Republicans and Democrats alike, to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act as soon as possible and without watering down the voting rights protections in the bills. Then the Congress must take up reforms to the Electoral Count Act and pass the Protecting Our Democracy Act, the latter of which already passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year.

To read the full letter, click here.