VOICES: We must not give up the fight to protect everyone’s right to vote

We, as citizens, must advocate that our U.S. Senate act decisively to protect our right to vote by making the ballot box more accessible for everyone. With our country’s democracy being threatened by deleterious voting rights legislation across the country, Parity Inc., a non-partisan organization that advocates for the well-being of our community through education, health, economic development, community development and public policy, makes the following request to everyone in the community.

Please take five minutes out of your day to write or call your two U.S. Ohio Senators and ask that they support the aims of The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act in spite of its failure to pass the Senate this week. You may also contact your local League of Women Voters to become more informed about voting in your community.

The 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th Amendments to the Constitution cover voting rights. As patriotic Americans, we should know what is in our Constitution and how our Republic works. Read and civically educate yourself. The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act would have ensured that voters can safely and freely cast their ballots, stopped partisan gerrymandering, limited the influence of dark money in politics, and would hold elected officials and our institutions accountable. Our recent Ohio Supreme Court redistricting ruling is a symptom of why this legislation is needed— for accountability. Gerrymandering is a form of voter nullification.

Be sure to let your Senators know the issue, your name, mailing address and ZIP Code to ensure that they know that you are one of their constituents. For those that reside in the State of Ohio, contact Senator Sherrod Brown at 202.224.2315 and Senator Rob Portman at 202.224.3353. You may also Google “contact your U.S. Senators” or download apps such as the 5 Calls App for easier access to your U.S. Congressional representatives.

Although we may not currently be affected locally by the types of new legislation across the country that places barriers to voting, we know that when states make it harder to vote for any group of people, unintended effects are that it causes other groups of people to be harmed. If you reduce the availability of ballot boxes or mail in ballots, it may have a negative effect on disabled veterans and the elderly. When you place barriers on college students, it damages those young people’s belief in our country’s heritage. And it emboldens other countries in the world who abhor our democratic principles. The late John Lewis said, “The right to vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society. We must use it.”

Please contact your Senators and request that they support the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act — and other voter rights legislation — to meet the interest of saving our Republic and protecting the right to vote. The right to vote for the aged, the poor, those with disabilities, veterans, college students and other communities must be protected. And let’s ensure that our votes are fairly counted.

LaTonia McCane and Dr. Edmund Moore are the Parity Inc. Co-chairs of a Dayton Ohio based 501-C-3 organization whose mission is to serve and advocate for social and economic equity within the African American community.

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