Rep. John Lewis (Photo: UPI Photo/David Tulis /LANDOV)
House Democrats on Thursday asked Republican-led state legislatures that are contemplating or have already implemented stricter new voter ID laws to think again. In a letter to each of the nation’s secretaries of state, 198 lawmakers urged the officials to “put partisan considerations aside and serve as advocates for enfranchisement.”
“Voting hours, voting sites, identification requirements, voter registration regulation and access to mail ballots should not be used as weapons to achieve a preferred electoral outcome,” the letter said. “Whether it is an elderly woman unable to locate her birth certificate for purposes of establishing her U.S. citizenship on election day or a college student whose school-issued identification is not among the IDs deemed acceptable for voting or a disabled veteran whose local polling place has not yet been made accessible, public officials on all levels of government should be striving to facilitate their right to vote, not make it more difficult.”
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said Democrats will “pursue every avenue” to redress efforts to undermine Americans’ right to vote, including working with legal and advocacy groups to challenge those efforts.
Georgia Rep. John Lewis was among several lawmakers who argued at a press conference Thursday afternoon that the new laws propose to solve a problem that they don’t believe exists. The civil rights hero recalled how in the '50s and '60s “people were beaten, arrested and even killed trying to defend the right to vote,” adding that “we must not go back.” He also said that it is heartbreaking to find himself in a position where he has to fight that issue all over again.
“The right to vote is precious. It is almost sacred,” Lewis said. “It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society. We must continue to speak up and speak out to protect this simple constitutional right.”