Press Releases

Senate Rules Committee Field Hearing Highlights Urgency of Passing the For the People Act

Jul 19, 2021

Thanks to Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar’s leadership in holding today’s hearing, it is clear that it is now more important than ever for the U.S. Senate to take action on voting rights legislation and pass the For the People Act (H.R. 1/S. 1). As the Committee outlined today, Georgia’s restrictive voting bill is among the many being introduced across the country that will disportionately harm voters of color and hinder their access to the ballot box while taking election administration authority away from nonpartisan local officials and giving it to partisan politicians in the state legislature.

“Today’s Senate Rules Committee hearing affirmed that the Senate must pass the For the People Act to counteract Republican voting restrictive laws like the one passed in Georgia,” said End Citizens United // Let America Vote President Tiffany Muller. “Georgia’s law is part of a nationwide assault on the freedom to vote. As State Rep. Billy Mitchell noted in his testimony, the bills being introduced nationally are nearly identical, being written and backed by dark money groups like the Heritage Foundation. The Senate must step in to protect voting rights from these dark money attacks by passing the For the People Act immediately, even if it means updating Senate procedure.”

See below for key quotes from panelists at today’s hearing that underscore the horrific details of Georgia’s bill and the urgency of passing the For the People Act:

Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock: 

  • “I want to be clear: Congress must take action on voting rights, and we have no time to spare. Since January, nearly 400 bills that would restrict voting have been introduced in 48 states, and passed in fourteen. And as we speak, the Texas legislature is trying to become the fifteenth state.”

  • “If we passed federal voting rights protections, we can reverse these restrictions. We can pass legislation that would create uniform national standards so that your right to vote wouldn’t depend on where you live in. We can protect the freedom of voters to decide how they want to vote— whether it’s on Election Day, during early voting, or by mail. And we can strengthen election security by providing new funding for states to replace old voting machines and enhance training for election administrators.”

State Representative Billy Mitchell:

  • “As president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, I hosted the Texas House Democratic Caucus for dinner in Washington last week. We compared legislative language as passed in Georgia and proposed in Texas. I suspected that the language would be similar but discovered that it was mostly identical! Verifying that these proposals sweeping the nation are being provided by such groups as the Heritage Foundation and others.”

  • “After the most successful election – and I define its success, not by our candidates winning their elections, but by the fact that when you have as many people vote as we did in the 2020 election cycle, with as few problems, with all challenges being dismissed – you have to consider that to be successful. Evidence of a strong Democracy.”

Helen Butler, Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda

  • “Instead of welcoming the increasing diversity of Georgia’s electorate and respecting the votes cast by Black voters and other voters of color, the immediate response by conservative members in the Georgia General Assembly to these political changes has been to enact new laws during the 2021 legislative session which are aimed at suppressing the votes of Black and Brown Georgians and which give the majority party in the state legislature the unprecedented power to undermine the state’s free and fair elections by taking over County Boards of Election, suspending county supervisors of election, replacing the Secretary of State as a voting member on the State Election Board with a fifth member chosen by the majority party in the legislature, and reconstituting County Boards of Election to purge Black Board Members in order to achieve partisan ends.”

  • “This law is a prime example of why minimum federal standards, including those set forth in S.1 (For the People Act), are urgently needed to ensure that voters of color are not subjected to discriminatory, arbitrary and unreasonably burdensome barriers, such as those contained in SB 202.”

José Segarra: 

  • “Long lines have disproportionately affected voters of color. Since 2013 when the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County vs. Holder resulted in Georgia and other states no longer having to preclear changes to voting regulations, polling locations have been cut statewide by nearly 10%”

  • “Our government needs to ensure that we have adequate systems and processes in place to allow every eligible voter to cast their ballot without such undue burdens.”

State Senator Sally Harrell: 

  • “It is the voters who will suffer. One of my constituents worked the polls at a library, which prior to election day served as an early voting location. She told me the story of a young man who came to the library on his lunch hour, thinking he could vote, because he had voted at this library in the past. However, since it was Election Day, he was supposed to vote in his home precinct, way across town. Because he couldn’t take more time off work, he cast a provisional ballot. Under S.B. 202, this man’s vote would have been thrown out because he showed up at the wrong precinct before 5pm.”

  • “Georgia is not unique. Election laws are currently being re-written across the nation. Where you live shouldn’t determine how hard it is to vote and whether or not your vote is counted. The time is now to take action to pass national voting standards and I implore you to do so.”

End Citizens United // Let America Vote is leading the effort to pass the For the People Act (H.R. 1/S. 1) that would protect the freedom to vote for all Americans and counter the restrictive voting bills being passed in the states. It would also end dark money so billionaires can’t buy elections, stop partisan gerrymandering, and put in place ironclad ethics laws. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act would restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to prevent future barriers to voting. ECU // LAV launched a nearly $2 million television and digital ad campaign in Georgia as part of the group’s campaign to pass the For the People Act.