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Georgia Democrat to roll out major voting rights package to mark 60th anniversary of the March on Washington
The eight bills from Rep. Nikema Williams would expand access to the ballot box and strengthen protections for voters and election workers.
FIRST IN SUPERCREATOR NEWS • Rep. NIKEMA WILLIAMS (D-Ga.) on Monday will introduce an eight-bill package of voting rights legislation to expand access to the ballot box and strengthen protections for voters and election workers, a person familiar with the announcement told Supercreator News.
The rollout, which has not been previously reported, coincides with the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, the pivotal 1963 civil rights gathering where Dr. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.
Williams, a fierce voting rights advocate, serves in the seat that was filled by the late Rep. JOHN LEWIS (D-Ga.), who attended and spoke at the march nearly 25 years before his election to Congress where he served until his death in 2020. Her district includes parts of Fulton County, whose top prosecutor indicted former President DONALD TRUMP for his efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results and unlawfully stay in power.
23 House Democrats have sponsored the complete package and the series of bills is supported by more than 50 advocacy groups, including organizations focused on democracy, worker empowerment, environmental justice, and youth voter engagement, along with those from the faith space.
According to documents obtained by Supercreator News, the bills in the package include provisions that would:
empower jurisdictions to increase the translations of election materials to include everyone in the democratic process regardless of their English language proficiency.
fund state and municipal grants to improve and innovate how they administer their elections.
set minimum standards to improve how election mail is delivered and processed.
set minimum standards for how long people may wait in lines.
mandate that all workers receive protected time off to vote.
The package also includes a new bill that provides protections and accessibility standards to expand access to the ballot for unhoused people.
A spokesperson for Williams did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Supercreator News.
As I reported in May, Gen Z voters are expected to once again be a decisive voting bloc in 2024. Another bill would make sure eligible youth voters can access the ballot box in accordance with the 26th Amendment. (FWIW, most young Americans support policies that make voting easier and more accessible, according to the Harvard Youth Poll released this spring. This includes automatic voter registration, sending ballots to every voter by mail, and blocking the removal of polling places from college campuses.)
The package is unexpected to make it to the floor under the Republican-controlled House and previous efforts to protect and expand voting rights have fallen well short of the 60-vote threshold required for a final vote.
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House Republicans released the American Confidence in Elections Act, a bill lead sponsor Rep. BRYAN STEIL (R-Wis.) has described as the “most conservative election integrity [legislation] to be seriously considered in the House in 20 years.”
The legislation, modeled after a Georgia anti-voting rights state law, includes 50 standalone bills sponsored by House Republicans and with provisions that require photo ID to vote in federal elections, ban unsolicited mail ballots, and allow conservative political speech to be weaponized.
A week later, congressional Democrats reintroduced the Freedom to Vote Act, a bill that passed the House in 2021 but failed to receive the 10 Senate Republicans required to break the filibuster. It would require states to offer same-day voter registration and make Election Day a federal holiday.
It would also require all voting machines used in all federal elections to be made in America to reduce the risk of foreign interference. And it would introduce voluntary public financing for campaigns to dilute the influence of undisclosed big money. (A bill in Williams’ package that informs voters on how to register to vote and their voting rights under the law when they move is also included in the Freedom the Vote Act.)
For civil rights leaders, the anniversary of the March on Washington represents the continuation of the work freedom fighters from generations past started to ensure economic opportunity and access to American democracy. This octet of bills is another opportunity for Williams and House Democrats to draw a contrast between them and congressional Republicans on such a historic day.
President JOE BIDEN and Vice President KAMALA HARRIS will meet with the organizers of the march, community leaders, and members of the King family this afternoon to commemorate the anniversary. The meeting will take place exactly 60 years following a meeting between former President JOHN F. KENNEDY and Dr. King on the morning of the original march. Biden will also host a reception and speak this evening to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the founding of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan civil rights and voting rights organization based in Washington, DC.