“Here’s something folks might not know,” he continued. “There does not exist in U.S. law an affirmative guarantee of the right to vote.” Plenty of people of color probably are aware of that, their right to the franchise having been so relatively recently secured, but the point remains. No American has legal redress at the federal level if they are denied their vote. Under Ossoff’s legislation, they would.
“It holds that any American citizen can challenge a state law which diminishes or restricts the right to vote, which makes it harder to vote, and require anyone to justify those restrictions and to demonstrate the least restrictive means of those ends,” Ossoff told CNN. The statement from his office adds that the legislation “protects all actions necessary for Americans to participate in elections, including registering to vote, obtaining any ID required to vote, casting a ballot, and ensuring that ballot is counted.”
Asked if he thought the Biden administration needs to do more to protect voting rights and election integrity, Ossoff was diplomatic, saying President Biden, Vice President Harris, and senior White House officials “have been extremely serious about their dedication to securing voting rights in this country.” He went on to again “encourage those activists to continue to push Congress and continue to push all of us to advance federal legislation that will secure the franchise in the face of state legislatures across the country that are restricting access to the ballot.” Keep pushing, is his message.
His counterpart, Rev. Sen. Raphael Warnock is joining him in that message.
“Here we are in 2021 and they’re trying to nullify our votes after our votes are cast?” he said in a recent rally for the For the People Act. “All across this country! We know what this is,” he said. “This is the Delta variant of Jim Crow voting laws. And the only vaccination is federal legislation.”
Sen. Alex Padilla of California is an original cosponsor of Ossoff’s legislation.
The legislation is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Protect Democracy, Demos, and Fair Fight Action.“This bill fills an unfortunate gap in the current legal landscape by creating a statutory right to vote in federal elections and requiring governments that burden that right to meet a high bar to justify doing so,” said Genevieve Nadeau, counsel for Protect Democracy. “It offers voters important legal protections and a meaningful way to enforce their rights in court.“
In combination or separate from the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, an affirmative right to vote bill should go to the Senate floor. Republican senators should be forced to vote up or down on the proposition that every American citizen has that one inalienable right. Of course Republicans would vote against it, but it would be instructive for the American people to see them do that.