Our Voices

RFK Human Rights Statement on Protecting Voting Rights

In Georgia this week, lawmakers pushed through a plan to place significant barriers in front of a core right in our democracy.

Yet, this is far from an isolated incident—zealots in state legislatures around the country, still stinging from November losses, are moving aggressively to restrict our freedom to vote in 43 states.

More than 250 bills introduced in recent months target communities of color, young people, and the poor by restricting voting hours and the availability of absentee ballots and creating stricter ID requirements, among other obstacles. In Georgia, a common courtesy such as offering a voter waiting in a long line a drink of water is now a misdemeanor charge.

Congress cannot stand aside and let extremist politicians silence the voice of the people.

We urge members on both sides of the aisle to definitively formalize standards protecting the voting rights of all through the passage of HR 1.

This federal measure, commonly known as the For the People Act, sets standards so every voter, regardless of race, age, or geography, has equal access to the ballot box by modernizing and streamlining the voter registration process.

It increases the security and integrity of our elections by requiring paper ballots, more oversight of elections, and more election audits. And by expanding early and absentee voting, it reduces long voter lines. Another bill, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, cracks down on voter intimidation and restrictions to ballot access, restoring protections in the original 1965 Voting Rights Act that were recently eroded by the Supreme Court.

Our hero, the late Congressman Lewis, repeatedly risked his life for voting rights. We must honor his legacy, and those of others who devoted themselves to freedom, to decency and justice and democracy to pass these bills into law, to ensure that voters pick our leaders, not the other way around.