On Aug. 28, the People’s Organization for Progress (P.O.P.) is hosting a bus going to Washington, D.C. to protest voter suppression.
It is being called a “National Day of Action for Voting Rights,” and participants are demanding the passage of the For the People Act (HR 1) and the John Lewis Act (HR 4); the latter restores dimensions stricken from the Voting Rights Bill by the Supreme Court in the Shelby County v. Holder case in 2013. Both bills are stalled in the Senate.
The protest will occur on the anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington and the lynching of Emmitt Till in 1955. Since the election of Joe Biden as president, a number of Republican controlled State Houses have enacted measures to suppress voter participation.
Several civil disobedience actions, in which a number of Black congressional representatives have faced arrest, have taken place in Georgia, Texas and Washington, D.C. One-third of all U.S. states have enacted voter suppression laws since the 2020 presidential election.
In April, the New Jersey Election Protection Coalition released a report about issues voters encountered during the 2020 General Election. Issues included non-receipt of mail-in ballots or the receipt of incomplete mail-in ballots, late openings and long lines at polling places, lack of voting privacy at polling places, and voter intimidation.
“Last year presented challenges to the voting system like no other, and we commend the State for establishing alternative ways for voters to cast ballots in a safe manner,” said the Coalition. “While these modified systems were successful in many ways and allowed New Jersey to experience its highest voter turnout ever, a significant number of voters faced barriers to the ballot—and any vote obstructed is one too many.”
New Jersey Assembly members Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Benjie Wimberly and Linda Carter sponsored legislation aimed at protecting voters from intimidation through the use of “poll watchers” and law enforcement officers stationed at state polling sites.
“There should be clear separation between law enforcement and the electoral process,” said Carter. “Apart from responding to emergencies, law enforcement is not needed at polling places, particularly since their presence may intimidate voters and discourage them from casting a ballot. Every voter should feel comfortable going to the polls and performing their civic duty.”
Gov. Phil Murphy rolled out a series of initiatives to expand access to voting rights. In April, he signed legislation establishing in-person early voting in New Jersey. The legislation allows registered voters to vote using machines at polling places before the day of certain primary and general elections in New Jersey.
For more information about P.O.P.’s bus trip to Washington, D.C. call 973-801-0001.