Thank you to a fantastic team of Swing Blue Alliance (SBA) volunteers from across the country that have been working on the S.1 For the People Act campaign.
Yesterday, Republican Senators again blocked the start of the debate on the For the People Act. However, Majority Leader Schumer later on the same day said that voting rights will be the first item taken up by the Senate when it reconvenes in mid-September.
Boston College historian Heather Cox Richardson wrote earlier in the month:
There are signs that a voting rights bill is not dead. Democratic senators have continued to work to come up with a bill that can make it through their party, and there is no point in doing that if, in the end, they know they cannot make it a law.
We hear the same news from our partner Common Cause. It may be under a different name and likely a slimmed-down version of S.1, but if the pressure is maintained, favorable action is possible.
We Can Make a Difference
We have already demonstrated that political activism groups are ready, willing and able to take action to protect voting rights. In 2020, thousands of activist groups and individual volunteers spent long hours on direct voter protection activities. And in 2021, many of these groups and volunteers reacted to anti-voter and voter suppression laws by launching a full-scale legislative advocacy campaign. There has not been such a sustained grassroots advocacy effort to protect the rights of the disenfranchised since the fight to save the ACA in 2017.
Swing Blue Alliance/Swing Left Greater Boston partnered with Common Cause to call and send postcards to constituents of moderate and conservative Democratic Senators. We’ve sent more than 260,000 postcards to voters in WV, AZ, NY, NH, ME, NV, DE and VA. These postcards coupled with our phone banks have generated thousands of calls to targeted senators.
Counter to Republican Misinformation Campaign
There was a concerted Republican push directed to moderate Senators to counter S.1. NH Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, e.g., was receiving dozens of calls in the spring in support of the lie that the 2020 election was stolen and that new laws were needed to limit access to the ballot. In the early spring, these calls were reportedly outnumbering calls in support of S.1.
The pattern was reversed following the launch of our S.1 campaign. Not only have we effectively countered the Republican phone calls to moderate senators but we have served as a counterweight to media reports that voting rights are not on the average American’s radar screen.
Expanded Senate Support
There has been real progress including from Senators we’ve targeted and that have been on the fence about their support for voting rights.
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D, WV) proposed a version of the bill that Stacey Abrams supports,
- Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) announced support for a carve out for the filibuster to advance voting rights legislation,
- Sen. Angus King (I-ME) announced that if had to choose between the filibuster and voting rights, he would support voting rights.
Hot Call Summer – Let’s Push On
We remain hopeful that Congress will pass significant new voting rights legislation in September or early October. Stacey Abrams urges us not to let the August Senate recess go to waste.