Black ExperiencePoliticsStacy M. Brown

Kamala Harris Announces Dems’ $25M Voting Rights Initiative

Just prior to a planned meeting with more than a dozen civil rights organizations, Vice President Kamala Harris announced a $25 million Democratic Party investment for voter education and access.

Harris made the announcement at Howard University in Washington, D.C., just before a meeting she and President Joe Biden planned to attend with the NAACP, National Urban League, the National Action Network and others.

It also comes as Democrats attempt to blunt the voter suppression laws and efforts in Republican-led states.

“This campaign is grounded in the firm belief that everyone’s vote matters,” Harris declared in announcing the “I Will Vote” effort by the Democratic National Committee.

“We are fighting back,” she declared.

At the president and vice president’s behest, the DNC will invest $25 million in voter education, voter protection, targeted voter registration, and technology “to make voting more accessible and to fight back against Republicans’ unprecedented voter suppression efforts,” the committee wrote in a statement.

Lawmakers in state legislatures around the country have reportedly enacted about 30 laws in recent months to restrict access to the ballot box.

Political watchers said the new laws make it more difficult to cast an absentee or mail-in ballot.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott plans to convene a special session of the state legislature where he said he will re-introduce several voting restrictions that Democratic legislators killed recently.

“We are doing our job of making certain that every Texas, every America, has a right to vote in this country, and it’s not being suppressed under some fake narrative, called voter integrity,” Texas Sen. Royce West, who serves the Dallas area, said in a statement.

Charlie Bonner, communications director for the Austin-based nonpartisan and nonprofit MOVE Texas Civic Fund and MOVE Texas Action Fund, told NNPA Newswire that Texas is ground zero in the fight for the freedom to vote.

“This is a critical moment in our democracy. Texas already has the most restrictive voter laws in the country, with its intentional barriers set up especially for young voters of color and they are doubling down on them,” Bonner said.

MOVE seeks to ensure that voters — particularly those 18-to-30 years old — have the information and resources needed to cast ballots. The organization also aims to protect the young electorate.

“It is a sad state of affairs, and it shows how low things have gone in this cynical attempt to hold onto power,” Bonner said.

He added that the work of MOVE already has resulted in some success with depleting certain voter restrictions.

“We were active in getting the bill killed in the last legislative session and the voting rights movement here has grown really strong out of necessity,” Bonner said. “We will be mobilizing heavily to make sure that Texans from every corner of the state share their stories about voter suppression. Many of the provisions in the earlier laws were taken out because more people shared their stories and talked about the impact they have had.

“People thought we couldn’t get the bill killed the last time, but it shows how powerful this group is where even in a state like Texas, we keep showing up and we keep showing how powerful we are, and we keep working,” he said.

The Biden administration has continued to push its For the People Act, which contains a host of anti-voter suppression proposals.

The president has also championed the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which expands the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Earlier this year, Biden signed an executive order on voting rights directing the federal government to increase voter education efforts across all agencies, develop plans to expand voting access for Americans, bolster the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department and update all online systems for voter registration.

Last month, the Justice Department sued the state of Georgia over its new voting rights law, alleging that the soon-to-be-enacted policies would disproportionately affect Black voters.

“While this broad assault against voting rights is sadly not unprecedented, it is taking on new forms,” Biden said in a statement. “It is no longer just about a fight over who gets to vote and making it easier for eligible voters to vote. It is about who gets to count the vote and whether your vote counts at all.”

Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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