Protect voting freedoms

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To the Editor:

Republican-led legislatures in 18 states have passed 30 laws restricting voting since the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. In their bitterness over losing a free and fair election, they’re doing everything in their power to make it harder for people to vote — people who are more likely to vote Democratic, that is. This is some of the most un-American behavior that we’ve witnessed in our lifetimes.

Congress must act now to implement national standards for federal elections. The Freedom to Vote Act would protect our right to vote, end partisan gerrymandering, counter undemocratic and dangerous election sabotage efforts, and help to eliminate the undue influence of dark money in our elections.

The Freedom to Vote Act sets national standards for all Americans to safely and freely cast our ballots, to ensure every vote is counted, and to elect people who represent the majority of Americans. Our senators need to deliver the Freedom to Vote Act to the American people, and to do that, they need to reform or eliminate the filibuster, which is blocking progress of this overwhelmingly popular and urgently needed legislation.

The filibuster (a supermajority 60-vote threshold) is a procedural booby trap that has stopped the beginning of debate on the Freedom to Vote Act. Without the chance to debate, this important legislation is dead in the water. The filibuster is not in the Constitution, and the original Senate rules did not include the filibuster. It’s an invention of the modern Senate, historically used by Southern states to block civil rights legislation, and it effectively renders the Senate a useless governing body. For a complete history of the filibuster, please read “Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of Democracy,” by Adam Jentleson.

Americans are frustrated and weary of Senate gridlock. Our senators must end the Jim Crow filibuster and pass the Freedom to Vote Act if we have any hope of protecting and strengthening our representative democracy.

Carla Cooper
Edgartown