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Voting Rights Reform

Time to move the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act forward. National and state elections should also be national holidays for all people.

Why does this matter?

Elections are the lifeblood of democracy. The Senate must honor the life’s work of John Lewis, and begin hearings on the Voting Rights Advancement Act. It has been sitting in the Senate, who refuse to acknowledge it. While outright voter suppression tactics (poll taxes, literacy tests) no longer exist, there are states that have imposed voter ID laws, gerrymandered districts, purged voter rolls, and moved / closed polling locations, among other methods to manipulate elections. These impact voters of color the most.

Furthermore, if there is no national holiday for voting, then those with less schedule flexibility (typically hourly labor, the less wealthy) are systematically discouraged from participating in elections. Making the day a holiday means that people can vote whenever it is convenient, but also more polling places, including in schools, can be more readily available, with more poll workers able to serve.

  • Most states hold their general elections to sync with the federal election date of the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November.. a date was set in legislation in 1845 to make sure that in an agrarian society, people could travel to vote and be back home both for Market Day and for the Sabbath. It has not been changed for 175 years! (source)

  • Voter turnout has plummeted over 150 years, and during presidential election years has fallen from 80 percent in 1888 to 60 percent in 2016 (source)

  • Only around half of America’s voting-age population cast a ballot in the last presidential election, a number that hasn’t changed significantly for decades (source)

  • In some countries, like Australia, attendance at the polls is mandatory -- if you don't show up and you don't have a written excuse for illness or travel, you are subject to a fine

  • So far Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, New York, and most recently Virginia signed into law a measure that, among other things, makes Election Day a state holiday

  • Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the House proposal a “power grab"... "Just what America needs, another paid holiday.” (source) However, Veterans Day is already a paid federal holiday, so tying these together seems to make even more sense

How can we tackle this?

  • Send the NAACP's "Fast Action" form on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act here

  • We suggest backing a proposal at the federal level to make Veterans Day also our Election Day -- "honoring veterans who fought, shed blood and died to protect and preserve our system, starting with the right to vote" (source)

  • A 2018 Pew survey found that 71 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Republicans now support such a proposal

  • Engage directly with your elected officials using our step-by-step guide

  • Sign this petition (to US Senate), and inform decision makers in your company through sites like to recognize election day as a holiday

  • Engage on social channels and in The Forum; add ideas, comments, and facts, to help us get to the best solution



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