MANHATTAN, N.Y. – Senate Democrats are trying again to protect voting rights with the Freedom to Vote Act as they call on Republican support for a federal election law that blocks voter suppression at the state level.
Activists gathered at Federal Hall in the Financial District on Friday to show their support of the bill.
The significance of the demonstration being held at Federal Hall is that it’s the former site of some of our country’s most important institutions, including the first Congress and Supreme Court – a location, activists say, is fitting to fight for democracy.
They are pushing for Democrats, specifically Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, to bring the Freedom to Vote act through to the finish line in Congress.
“We’re here to say people’s ability to vote should be easier — number one, point blank, period,” Jawanza Williams, director of organizing for VOCAL-NY, said. “In a democracy, one vote, one voice, it absolutely matters and we should be making it always easier for people to engage in the fundamental American right.”
Activists used street performances to demonstrate the bill overcoming voter suppression laws in states such as Ohio, Texas, Georgia, and Florida.
The bill also aims to lessen the influence of big money with a small donor matching option, but its passage faces one huge hurdle – the filibuster.
“We can’t say that we care about vulnerable communities of color if we don’t get rid of the filibuster,” Rep. Grace Meng, (D) NY-6, said.
The groups, standing alongside their elected officials, say they will continue to voice their support for the proposal until it’s law.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is one of those elected officials.
“We have to understand what’s at stake and how important it is we keep the ability to vote in place and strengthen it to protect us from the worst we’ve ever seen in history,” Williams said.
Schumer said he hopes to hold a vote on the bill sometime next week.