Today, the Declaration for American Democracy coalition and 22 member organizations issued statements calling for August recess to be delayed until the For the People Act is passed.
Statements from members of the Declaration for American Democracy coalition are below. Member organizations include Campaign Legal Center, Citizen Action of New York, Clean Elections Texas, Common Cause, DemCast USA, Democracy 21, End Citizens United / Let America Vote Action Fund, Faithful Democracy Coalition, Face the Music Collective, Franciscan Action Network, Free Speech For People, Greenpeace USA, League of Women Voters of the US, Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Network for Responsible Public Policy, People for the American Way, Stand Up America, SiX Action, The Workers Circle, Un-PAC, and Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice.
Statement by Jana Morgan, director of the Declaration for American Democracy:
“President Biden and Majority Leader Schumer know that time to pass the For the People Act (S1) is quickly diminishing. It is critical that this legislation is enacted before the 2022 midterm elections and before partisan maps that would disenfranchise voters for the next decade, especially voters of color, are drawn.
“We call on Sen. Schumer to delay Senate recess until the bill is sent to the president’s desk. We also call on President Biden to use the full power of the Oval Office to ensure that the For the People Act is signed into law before the end of summer and to not let the Jim Crow filibuster stand in the way.
“One of the major tenets of a fully functioning democracy is that the public interest, not special interests, guide decision-making. More than 80% of Americans across party lines support the For the People Act, and it is time for the Senate and the Biden Administration to rise to the occasion and respond to the will of the people: Recess can wait; our democracy can’t.”
Trevor Potter, President, Campaign Legal Center:
“Passing the For The People Act should be an immediate top priority of Congress. As the Federal Election Commission continues to fail to enforce campaign finance laws, as states pass new laws that restrict voting access, and as corruption issues (highlighted by the recent arrest of Trump donor Tom Barrack) remain unaddressed, passing the For the People Act should be a top priority. Congress ought to act to create the conditions for more accountability and less corruption in our political system—so Americans can have our voices heard. They should not kick the can down the road while our rights and our democracy is endangered. The August recess can wait. The For the People Act should not and cannot wait.”
Michelle Ming, Campaigns Manager for Democracy, Citizen Action of New York:
“Failure is not an option when it comes to creating a democracy that works for all of us. We look forward to thanking Majority Leader Schumer back home in New York after he gets the For the People Act passed.”
Liz Wally, Executive Director, Clean Elections Texas:
“On July 12, 2021, Texas Democrats walked out of the State Capitol and flew directly to Washington, D.C. to highlight the fact that only passage of the federal bill, S.1, the “For The People Act,” stands between Texans and some of the most extreme, far-right policies in the country.
But time has almost run out – particularly because of the upcoming mid- August date of the release of the Census data for redistricting and the need for elections departments to get prepared for the primaries. It is critical to delay the August 6 Congressional recess until the legislation is passed that will ensure every American’s voice is heard and every vote is counted. The Texas legislators are fighting not only for ALL Americans but for our democratic form of government.
Karen Hobert Flynn, President, Common Cause:
“Our freedom to vote continues to be under attack as partisan state legislators and dark money groups keep rigging the system to prevent Americans—mostly Black and Brown voters—from having their voices heard. The Senate must do its job and stay in Washington, DC, until it passes a comprehensive voting rights and anti-corruption bill—the For the People Act. We appreciate Leader Schumer’s commitment to keep the Senate in session when he said last week: ‘I’m going to bring up voting rights…for future votes on the floor and we’re going to keep at it until we get it done.’”
Nick Knudsen, Executive Director, DemCast USA:
“In the last year, we’ve seen a full-scale assault on the democratic process – from propagation of the Big Lie, to the physical siege of the US Capitol, to an unrelenting barrage of state-level legislation intended to strip Americans of the freedom to vote and – in some cases – even hand politicians the power to overturn the will of the people if the vote doesn’t go their way. Activists across the country are working around the clock to ensure that these incursions on our freedom to vote are stopped. But the clock is ticking, and time is running out. The US Senate is in a uniquely powerful position to protect the American people by passing the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would go a long way to restoring our freedoms. We ask that Leader Schumer hear our call and lead. Do whatever is necessary to get voting rights legislation passed. Recess can wait. Democracy cannot.”
Fred Wertheimer, President, Democracy 21:
“Congress must cancel its August recess if legislation to protect the right to vote has not yet been enacted. The voter suppression and discrimination laws enacted in states all over the country will potentially result in millions of Americans losing their ability to vote in federal elections. These state suppression and discriminations laws are aimed at Black, brown, other minorities, disabled, elderly and young voters. The sacred right to vote is the essence of our democracy. It is a moral right to which every eligible citizen is entitled. It would be irresponsible for Congress to go on vacation without acting to protect the right of every eligible voter to vote in future federal elections.”
Tiffany Muller, President, End Citizens United / Let America Vote Action Fund:
“This year alone, 18 states have already passed 30 new laws to restrict access to the ballot and the only way to protect the freedom to vote is for Congress to respond by passing the For the People Act. Recess can wait–but our democracy can’t. Senate Democrats must not go home until they pass federal voting rights and anti-corruption legislation and send it to President Biden’s desk.”
Sister Quincy Howard, OP, Coordinating Director, Faithful Democracy Coalition:
“It would be unconscionable for the Senate to break for recess without addressing the ongoing assaults on our democratic systems happening across the nation. S.1 would protect voting rights, prevent 10 more years of extreme partisan gerrymandering, shed light on dark money and strengthen ethics rules for elected leaders. The wellbeing of our democracy is a moral issue of the utmost importance: it’s about the dignity of voters and about the ability of the people to choose their leaders and the future for next generations. There is a path to passage and the power to make it happen–what we need is the political will and the courage.”
Pete Kronowitt, Founder, Face the Music Collective:
“When we suppress the right to vote for some, we deny the freedom to vote for all. When politicians attack our most sacred Constitutional right, they’re silencing our voices (the majority’s voice) and substituting minority rule by a wealthy few, because all rights *depend* on voting rights. Tell your Senators to pass the For the People Act now—no matter what it takes: including not taking an August recess and not letting the filibuster take away your freedom to vote. Senators can catch up on summer reading after our voting rights are protected.”
Jason Miller, Director of Campaigns and Development, Franciscan Action Network:
“As Franciscans and Franciscan-hearted individuals, we believe that we can’t just wait for heaven, we must actively build the Kingdom of God here on earth. At the Franciscan Action Network, one way we build the Kingdom is to advocate with those on the margins. The Senate must also not merely “wait for heaven” they must pass critical legislation immediately, especially the For the People Act. Our democracy is at stake, and every American must have an equal say at the ballot box and not be drowned out by big money. There is no time to waste. Recess can wait: the Senate needs to do its job.”
John Bonifaz, President, Free Speech For People:
“Our democracy is on the line. The Senate must not go on recess in the midst of this voting rights crisis. Senators have a duty to protect and defend the constitutional right to vote, the bedrock of our democracy, and they must cancel their recess to ensure that they end the filibuster and pass now the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Too many people in our nation have fought and died for the right to vote. Senators must honor their memory and carry out their responsibility to protect our democracy at this critical moment in our history. There can be no recess until the Senate has done its job to address this crisis.”
Folabi Olagbaju, Democracy Campaign Director, Greenpeace USA
“We only have a handful of years left to reduce the power of fossil fuel companies polluting our communities and democratic systems before finding ourselves at a catastrophic point of no return — unless we take immediate steps to fix our broken democracy. But a handful of extremist politicians are busy putting up barriers to silence our voices and block progress based on what we look like or where we live. There is no question that our democracy is at a tipping point and the For the People Act (S.1) is our best chance to safeguard our future. Our Senators must do whatever is necessary to get the For the People Act passed. Recess can wait. Our planet cannot.”
Virginia Kase Solomón, CEO, League of Women Voters of the US:
“Our democracy is in crisis. Congress cannot afford to take a recess from their most important work: defending the voting rights of the American people. We the people — particularly those of us who, because we are Black, brown, female, or disabled, are being targeted by anti-voter bills — are counting on Congress to stand up for our rights and do their job. Democracy isn’t something you wait for; it’s something you fight for. Now.”
Denise Lieberman, Director & General Counsel of Missouri Voter Protection Coalition:
“With states around the country – including Missouri – attempting to make voting harder, particularly for voters of color, low-wage workers, seniors, young voters and voters with disabilities, the For the People Act will provide critically needed democracy safeguards. The provisions are particularly needed in states like Missouri where voters already face many barriers to the ballot. The time to act is now. Missouri voters cannot wait any longer for their access to democracy.”
Mary J. Novak, Executive Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice:
“As a person of faith who sees and celebrates the human dignity in every person, I am called to oppose policies and practices that suppress peoples’ voices or votes in our democracy. In less than a month, the Census Bureau will release data for states to begin the redistricting process — for the first time without the racial gerrymandering protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in place. Between now and then, the future of our democracy hangs in the balance.
“To avoid harmful, extreme gerrymandering in redistricting across the country, the Senate must join the House in passing S.1, the For the People Act before they leave for recess. If they fail to do this, then they are failing to attend to their most basic moral obligation: protecting our foundational democratic institutions. We the People will keep striving to create the multi-racial, representative democracy we envision. Recess can wait, our democracy cannot.“
Rhoda Schermer, President, Network for Responsible Public Policy:
“Please no recess. You have work to do in making sure all eligible voters get to vote without tough hurdles. You have the opportunity to make voting positive and even joyful by providing peace of mind to voters in states now being subjected to constraints. And let’s end gerrymandering, one of the more reprehensible tactics to silence voices. The For the People Act is a big Act and covers many important voter related issues. It is time to do the right thing.”
Ben Jealous, President, People for the American Way:
“More than 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote poignantly about how it feels to be told to ‘wait’ for justice and equal rights, in his letter from a Birmingham jail. For the Senate to go on August recess without addressing the voting rights emergency in this country would be to tell us to ‘wait’ once again. There is no more time to wait. Every day that passes brings more efforts by Republican-controlled states to suppress the votes of Black and brown Americans. So we are saying to senators, your recess can ‘wait’; voting rights for all Americans can’t. Do not leave Washington without passing the For the People Act. This is a moment in history when all Americans will be watching what you do, and we’ll remember.”
Christina Harvey, Executive Director, Stand Up America:
“State legislators in Texas have literally fled the state in a last-ditch effort to protect Texans’ freedom to vote—with the hope that the Senate will act now to pass legislation that will stop the rampant voter suppression efforts in Texas and elsewhere. They, and we, are running out of time to protect our freedom to vote, our elections, and the sanctity of our democratic process. The American people, especially those long left out of equal participation in our democracy, cannot wait for the Senate to return from a month long break before they pass urgently needed legislation like the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.”
Carmen López, Senior Democracy Director, SiX Action:
“Across the country, state legislators have gone above and beyond to protect our freedom to vote – from traveling to DC to deploying every tactic in their arsenal to stop, slow down, or amend bills that would hurt voters. Legislators are running out of options and are imploring Congress to step up and enact national standards to ensure that we can safely and freely cast our ballots, have our voices heard, and elect leaders who deliver on our priorities.”
Ann Toback, CEO, The Workers Circle:
“The work of protecting our democracy can’t afford to take a vacation right now, and neither can the Senate! State legislative attacks on voting rights—on free and fair elections—are escalating nationwide, threatening the very foundation of our democracy. Hundreds of bills have been specifically crafted to suppress the votes of people of color. Congress has a duty to protect every single American’s right to vote no matter our race, our language, our physical ability, our income, or our zip code.
“As a Jewish social justice organization whose founders came to the United States fleeing persecution and violence, our tradition carries within it the history of people who risked everything to escape from repressive governments. We know the terrible price that is paid when people are not afforded the rights and protections of a strong democracy.
“Congress must not stand idly by as these attacks upon our fundamental right to vote accelerate. Our Democracy can’t wait; recess can! We call upon Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to keep the Senate in session and not let the filibuster stand in the way of passing the For the People Act.”
Shana Gallagher, Executive Director of Un-PAC:
“Passing the For The People Act is existential for young people. Solutions to all of the issues that our generation cares about – including climate change, crippling student debt, and ever-widening income inequality – will be blocked until we get big money out of politics and make it easier for young people to vote. Our democracy is crumbling, and if we don’t rise to this once in a lifetime opportunity to fix it by passing long overdue structural reform, it will collapse. We call on our Senators – in fact, we beg them – to delay recess, and do whatever it takes now to pass the For The People Act into law.”
Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, Executive Director, Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice
As people of faith, we believe the right to vote is sacred. It is a moral imperative that every eligible vote gets cast and every voice is heard! Democracy is under assault across the country, and Congress must act before we lose it entirely. Here in Wisconsin, over 20 egregiously anti-democratic bills have been proposed, and several have already passed, in our legislature. Only the veto power of our Governor stands between us and extreme voter suppression that will affect the elderly, disabled, indefinitely confined, and communities of color. Wisconsin is one of the most gerrymandered states in the union and there is little hope of any meaningful change on the state level. We must have federal law that will undo the tremendous damage being done to voting rights across the country. This is no time to take a break. We call upon Senator Schumer and the Senate to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, no matter what it takes. Just get it done!
What would the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act achieve?
The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act is a bold and transformative legislative package that would create national standards to protect our freedom to vote, get big money out of politics, combat partisan election subversion, and guarantee that congressional districts are drawn to give fair representation for all.
Together we can realize a democracy that represents, reflects, and responds to all of us.
Protects Our Freedom to Vote
- Automatic Voter Registration and Online Voter Registration: Enacts an automatic voter registration system for each state through the state’s motor vehicle agency and ensures voters in all states have access to online voter registration.
- Election Day Holiday: Makes Election Day a public holiday.
- Uniform Early Voting: Ensures voters have access to at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections, including two weekends, while accommodating small election jurisdictions and vote-by-mail jurisdictions.
- Same Day Voter Registration: Ensures every state offers same day registration at a limited number of locations for the 2022 elections and at all polling locations by 2024, allowing election officials, especially in rural areas, time to implement the new requirements.
- Federal Minimum Standards on Vote by Mail and Drop Boxes: Ensures all voters can request a mail-in ballot, improves the delivery of election mail, and puts in place minimum standards to ensure drop boxes are available and accessible to all voters.
- Strengthens Voter List Maintenance Standards: Requires that the removal of voters from the rolls is done on the basis of reliable and objective evidence and prohibits the use of returned mail sent by third parties to remove voters.
- Counting of Provisional Ballots: Requires provisional ballots to count for all eligible races within a county, regardless of the precinct they were cast in.
- Standards for Voter Identification: Promotes voter confidence and access by requiring a uniform national standard for states that requires identification for in-person voting, and allowing voters to present a broad set of identification cards and documents in hard copy and digital form.
- Voting Rights Restoration for Returning Citizens: Restores the right to vote in federal elections for people who have served their time for felony convictions after they are released from prison.
- Expanded Voting Access Protections for the Disabled, Native Americans, Military, Overseas Voters, and Underserved Communities: Includes targeted protections to promote accessible voting to communities facing unique challenges.
Ensures Fair Representation in Government
- Bans Partisan Gerrymandering: Prevents states from adopting congressional maps that unduly favor a political party. Maps will be measured against concrete numerical thresholds for each state, created by political scientists using quantitative metrics of partisan fairness. Courts will also be able to look broadly at the maps and mapmakers’ intent to determine whether they are unduly favoring a political party.
- Strengthens Protections for Communities of Color: By bolstering Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, requiring districts be drawn to represent communities of interest, including communities that share racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Requires States to Adopt Transparent and Fair Processes for Maps: Allows states to enact redistricting plans using their legislature, a commission, or any other entity — provided they hold public hearings, accept public input, adhere to transparency requirements, and explain how final plans adhere to the Voting Rights Act and the ban on partisan gerrymandering.
- Takes Effect Immediately and Applies to All 2022 Maps: Prevents any unfair maps ahead of the 2022 elections, and courts may not allow an illegal map to be used simply because an election is imminent. Any resident may sue their state in federal court for violating the redistricting provisions, and if the court finds the law has been violated, it may either draw a new map or require the state to redraw its map.
Reduces the Influence of Big Money in Politics
- Combatting Secret Money and Election Interference (DISCLOSE Act and Honest Ads Act): Requires super PACs, 501(c)(4) groups, and other organizations spending money in elections to disclose donors and shuts down the use of transfers between organizations to cloak the identity of contributors. Ensures that political ads sold online have the same transparency and disclosure requirements as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite.
- State Election Assistance & Innovation Fund: Establishes a self-sustaining fund to finance critical investments in state-led innovations for our democracy and election infrastructure. The fund is financed through an additional assessment paid on federal fines, penalties, and settlements for certain tax crimes and corporate malfeasance. States would be allotted an annual distribution for eligible democracy and election-related investments. States could select to access their full distribution or a partial distribution, or roll over their distribution for future use.
- Nonpartisan Oversight of Federal Election Law: Improves the ability of the Federal Election Commission to carry out oversight and enforcement responsibilities.
- Stopping Illicit Super PAC Coordination: Creates “coordinated spender” category to ensure single-candidate super PACs do not operate as arms of campaigns.
Combats Partisan Election Subversion
- Preventing State Election Subversion: Establishes federal protections to insulate nonpartisan state and local officials who administer federal elections from undue partisan interference or control.
- Protection of Election Records, Election Infrastructure, and Ballot Tabulation: Strengthens protections for federal election records and election infrastructure in order to protect the integrity and security of ballots and voting systems.
- Voter-Verified Paper Ballots, Reliable Audits, and Voting System Upgrades: Requires states to use voting systems that use paper ballots that can be verified by voters and to implement reliable post-election audits. Also provides grants for states to purchase new and more secure voting systems and make cybersecurity improvements.
- Non-Partisan Election Official Recruitment and Training: Tasks the Election Assistance Commission with developing model training programs to recruit a new generation of election workers and provides dedicated grants for training and recruitment.
- Comprehensive Voting System Security Protections: Puts in place election vendor cybersecurity standards, including standards for manufacturing and assembling voting machines, among other key security measures.
- Establishing Duty to Report Foreign Election Interference: Creates a reporting requirement for federal campaigns to disclose certain foreign contacts.
What is the Declaration for American Democracy?
A Coalition of 240+ Member Organizations
The Declaration for American Democracy is an anti-oppression coalition working together to make the promise of democracy real for all of us.
We believe our democratic systems, institutions, and leaders must reflect, represent, and respect the diverse, multicultural nation that we are and have always been. For democracy to work for all of us, it must include all of us and address the deep systemic, institutional challenges that continue to block meaningful progress to this day. As America’s diversity continues to grow, so must our democracy.
Today our democracy faces crises on multiple fronts -- compounded by a deeply problematic history that has held us back from achieving an inclusive and equitable multiracial nation since our founding. Powerful corporations and wealthy special interests use their money and influence to shape public policy priorities. Extremist politicians are putting up deliberate barriers to block access to the ballot box and silence the voices of Black, Brown, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI, low-income, LGBTQIA, disability, and other marginalized communities. State legislatures are manipulating Congressional maps to allow politicians to pick their voters and hoard power for their political parties. And our government has failed to respond after four years of a corrupt administration and Supreme Court decisions gutting voting rights protections and anti-corruption laws.
Working together, we are committed to passing national standards, including the Freedom to Vote Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC Statehood, to transform our political system and move our country closer to realizing the true promise of democracy. However, we will not be satisfied with any single reform and will continue to press for the structural changes necessary to rebalance power for the people and undo the historic harms that have barred communities that have been marginalized and denied political power since the founding of the United States.
We believe people of color, young people, people with disabilities, language minorities, and other historically disenfranchised communities should have equal access to the ballot and be equitably represented in government. We believe everyday people should have a stronger voice in elections than wealthy donors and special interests. And we believe our government should be transparent and accountable to the people.
Together we must ensure the freedom to vote is a fundamental American right and that the people -- regardless of our color, our background, or our zip code - hold the power, not the wealthy and corporations.
Therefore, we, the Declaration for American Democracy, are committed to working together to achieve this vision and model our values in how we work together. As a coalition, we will invest in each other and treat each other with respect. We will acknowledge and learn from our past, including the legacy of racism and white supremacy in our movement and democratic institutions. In decision making we will center Black, Brown, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI, LGBTQIA, people with disabilities, language minorities, as well as other impacted communities. And we will invest in each other through professional development, collaborative grantmaking, and shared projects.