The right to vote is central to our democracy. Without free and fair elections, elected leaders can’t claim the consent of the governed. S1, the For the People Act, is the most critical democracy reform of our time. It would expand voting rights, fix our broken campaign finance system, and end extreme partisan gerrymandering. It would ensure that our political system responds to the needs and priorities of the American people and not special interests.   

The 2020 election saw historic levels of voter turnout – in the middle of a pandemic. But the urgency and importance that drove voters to the polls was dissipated by organized, unprecedented attacks on the electoral process. These efforts were designed to disenfranchise and suppress Black and brown voters by promoting false claims of “voter fraud.” 

The 19th Amendment, which we celebrated the 100th anniversary of in 2020, made a promise of suffrage for women, but unfortunately did not provide actual safe access to the ballot box for women of color, nor did it include nationwide suffrage for American Indian women. It took the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 to finally outlaw discriminatory voting practices that were hijacking our democracy from BIPOC communities. These rights have been and continue to be under siege since constitutional authority was instituted.  

The VRA has been essential to preventing voter suppression in communities of color for decades. But in 2013, five Supreme Court justices gutted the pre-clearance provision of this vital law in the Shelby County v. Holder decision, thereby making it easier for certain states to resume racist practices that restrict the voting rights of African American, Latino, Native American, and Asian American people.  It is far past time to right this grievous wrong and restore equal access to the voting booths for all Americans, especially women of color.   

Honoring the Role of Women of Color in the Suffrage movement.

NOW proudly stands with our coalition partners, to demand that Congress reinstate protections against racial discrimination in voting, and restore the VRA to its full authority, and stop voter suppression tactics such as onerous voter id requirements, the purging of voter rolls, and the dissemination of deceptive information aimed at communities of color. We need fair elections, where the right to vote can never be limited or taken away because of partisan politics. We need the For the People Act, and we need it now. The future of our democracy is at stake. 

“It is imperative … that every step is undertaken to fight any and every attempt, whether state, private or foreign, to deceive, discourage and block eligible voters from voting and having their ballots counted! NOW is committed to being a vital wedge in defeating the vicious voter suppression confronting our nation which targets women of color voters.”  

Barbara Arnwine, President and Founder, Transformative Justice Coalition