Polling station voters sign (79332)
Polling station voters sign Credit: Nia Sanders

There was recent good news and bad news on voting rights—on Tuesday the House passed H.R. 4 or the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. The bad news is the report that the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his wife Jacqueline are hospitalized with the coronavirus.

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and still recovering from gallbladder surgery, Jackson may have had his immune system compromised. But as the world knows he and his wife are stalwarts in the fight for human and civil rights and that same strength will be applied to the latest physical condition.

Their recovery may be bolstered by the House’s vote, which will definitely help in the stand against voter suppression. We need every little bit to stifle the wave of restrictive voting laws sweeping the country.

Since the evisceration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in 2013, the Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision, the GOP lawmakers have pulled out all stops to continue the assault, introducing more than 400 suppression bills.

This is a danger that the late John Lewis and Jesse Jackson were well aware of, and like never before we need these two icons in the battle to subdue the retrenchment. It’s good to get the bill through the House but it will take a powerful push to get it through the Senate where at least 10 GOP senators will have to join the Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi framed the current situation perfectly in historical and political context the other day when she said, “It is unpatriotic to undermine the ability of people, who have the right to vote and to have access to the polls. As John knew, this precious pillar of our democracy is under attack from what is the worst voter suppression campaign in America since Jim Crow.”

Yes, Jim Crow is ever present, and it was good to hear Gov. Hochul’s promise to do all she can to eliminate the vestiges of the “specter of ugly systemic racism” that is inseparably linked to the Jim Crow legacy of reaction.

To be sure, it’s an uphill battle, and looming on the horizon is the midterm election next year and that may bring even more disastrous results if the GOP wins back control of Congress and other gubernatorial races.

So on your mark, get set, and let’s keep our lawmakers keyed to the menace of voter suppression and that we have their backs.