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AFSCME joins coalition of labor, civil rights organizations to protect the right to vote

By Pablo Ros ·

Making every vote count should be a no-brainer.

Allowing every eligible American to cast a vote in our elections is not up for political debate. It’s a requirement for a healthy democracy. It’s one of the rules of the game. It’s baked into the very notion of “democracy,” which means “rule by the people.”

But this year, between January and July 14, at least 18 states enacted 30 laws that will make it harder – and, in some cases, impossible – for eligible voters to cast their ballots in future elections. Many of these laws are motivated by false and often racist allegations of voter fraud, and they are driven by national Republican groups that are spending millions of dollars to disenfranchise voters of color.

That is why AFSCME has joined a coalition of labor, civil rights and social justice organizations and is on a mission to protect our right to vote.

At a virtual press conference Tuesday, Fighting for Our Vote launched a mobilization campaign that will involve millions of people across the country over the coming year to fight for access to the ballot and the freedom to vote. Our union is participating in this effort along with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), among others.

“Everything we care about – all our policy priorities – depends on this struggle to protect the integrity of our democracy,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said at the event. “In order to pass a bold pro-worker agenda … in order to build an economy that empowers working families … in order to address the wealth inequality that’s tearing at our national fabric … in order to bend the arc of history toward racial justice … we must fight voter suppression and expand voting rights.”

Joined by NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, AFT President Randi Weingarten, NEA President Becky Pringle and ACLU National Political Director Ronald Newman, among others, Saunders said the attacks on our right to vote are coming from those who know they can’t win at the ballot box on their ideas and policies.

“The privileged and powerful in this country have made a ruthless, immoral calculation: They know that when more people participate in our elections, they lose,” he said. “They know their agenda doesn’t have enough public support to win fair and square. They know that they can’t rig the economy unless they also rig the political system. So, they are doing everything they can to restrict access to the ballot box – and to silence the voices of people of color in particular.”

Fighting for Our Vote seeks to pressure Congress to restore voting rights by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act; make mail-in voting and ballot drop boxes widely available in every community; guarantee a minimum of two weeks of early voting as well as expanded voting hours and curbside voting; and make sure every vote is counted, among other things.

Mobilization events will take place in cities across the country, including Miami, Detroit, Houston and Washington, D.C.

To learn more about Fighting for Our Vote, visit fightingforourvote.org.

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