Faced once again with an opportunity to take action on voting rights, the Senate is scheduled for a procedural vote on the Freedom to Vote Act on Wednesday. Led by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Joe Manchin, the Freedom to Vote Act is a compromise born out of the necessity of voting rights reforms to maintain the American standard of Democracy.
Wednesday’s vote is simply about whether the Senate will debate the recently introduced voting rights legislation. Republicans previously filibustered similar attempts to discuss the For the People Act.
Having an honest discussion about the direction of Democracy, not a final vote on passing the legislation itself, should be a given. With more than 400 bills restricting voting rights introduced this year alone and documented issues in the eight years since the Shelby v. Holder case, Democrats say it is undeniable that action is mission-critical.
During floor remarks ahead of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the question at hand is pretty clear.
“Every Senator will have to answer a straightforward question,” Schumer said, asking: “Should the Senate be allowed to simply begin a debate on voting rights, as has been done many times throughout our history?”
Schumer also positioned the vote as a measure of values and commitment to democracy.
“Do the members of this chamber think protecting our Democracy is worthy of even a debate in the Senate? Senate Democrats think it absolutely is,” Schumer continued.
Here are five things to know about the Freedom to Vote Act:
It retains some of the major components of the For the People Act
A breakdown from the Brennan Center highlights the major parts of the new bill offering standardized federal guidelines for election administration and voting rights. Specific provisions include expanded early voting options, protections for vote-by-mail, and protections for voters with disabilities.
The bill also would restore voting rights to those formerly incarcerated for felonies. Another major component is removing partisan gerrymandering. Redistricting is currently underway, and numerous accounts have surfaced of maps that reflect actual population growth but political whims.
Another part of the legislation would be to make election day a federal holiday, expanding the number of people who would be off from work and able to vote.
Democrats made several concessions to get Manchin on board and to court Republicans to overcome the filibuster. It also has a scaled-back version of campaign finance provisions.
It protects election workers and officials from intimidation and harassment
Scenes from the 2020 election and the Georgia Senate runoff showed unprecedented harassment, threats, and intimidation of workers simply trying to count ballots and fulfill their election administration duties.
The bill incorporates an earlier provision introduced by Sen. Raphael Warnock to protect the workers and officials who run elections. Another provision of the bill would also prevent sham third-party interference in vote counting, as seen in places like Arizona.
The Freedom To Vote Act has broad support outside of Congress
Much of the partisan gridlock around voting rights is limited to Congress itself and related party interests. A poll from Data for Progress showed the majority of voters across party, supported the Freedom to Vote Act.
Senate Republican support for the bill is questionable
While every Senate Democrat has rallied around the bill, sources suggest Republicans will once again hold the party line and vote against even moving the bill forward for discussion. An NPR report quoted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he hopes all Republicans hold the line against the vote.
It seems that Manchin, and others who put value in bipartisan action, have not been able to win over their colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
Wednesday’s vote on beginning debate on Freedom to Vote Act will still be at the whim of the filibuster if 10 Republicans do not join the Democratic caucus in voting to move the discussion forward.
It is a companion to the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act
As with the For the People Act, comprehensive Democracy reform requires passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act address voter suppression yet in different ways.
Named for the late voting rights champion Rep. John Lewis, the VRAA not only restores the aspects of the Voting Rights Act gutted by Shelby but would prevent racial discrimination in voting.
A Disturbing Timeline Of Ahmaud Arbery's Killing And Murder Investigation In Georgia
1. October 20191 of 43
2. November 2019
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This video is from 11/17. Larry English called 911 on 11/18 and said he had a problem with "other people" the night before. This appears to show that day and is from English's attorney. There is no record of neighbors calling 911 this day, based off records from Glynn Co 911 pic.twitter.com/BXlyYEaBcL— Wright Gazaway (@WrightKATU) May 15, 2020
3. Dec. 20, 2019
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Police told the homeowner where #AhmaudArbery was last seen to contact Greg McMichael if his cameras caught someone on his property. McMichael in turn gathered a posse & began hunting for Ahmaud, or someone who fit his description, catching up with him on 2/23/20– killing him. pic.twitter.com/BmlmW636f5— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 16, 2020
4. Dec. 20, 2019
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This is the man that set the plan in motion that led to the murder of #AhmaudArbery.— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 18, 2020
ROBERT RASH is a Glynn County Police Officer.
He instructed a homeowner to contact Gregory McMichael to deal w/ trespassers.
McMichael and his son formed a posse and murdered Ahmaud Arbery. pic.twitter.com/ZqZg567Agp
5. Feb. 11, 2020
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Larry English’s attorney gave me this video from Feb 11. It shows the incident outlined in my story when Travis McMichael called 911 and saw someone in the home. On 2/23, he and his father thought the Abrery was who they saw on the 11th pic.twitter.com/C2gVJCJ3xQ— Wright Gazaway (@WrightKATU) May 14, 2020
6. Feb. 23Source:Getty 6 of 43
7. Feb. 27, 2020
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This is the DA who blocked the arrest of 2 white supremacist TERRORISTS after they murdered an innocent black man execution style while he was jogging in his neighborhood— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) May 9, 2020
JACKIE JOHNSON NEEDS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR OBSTRUCTING & ENDANGERING THE LIVES OF BLACK MEN
ARREST HER pic.twitter.com/ngSIEGMCq1
8. Feb. 27, 20208 of 43
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10. March 2020
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If you’re wondering why no charges were initially filed on the murderers of #AhmaudArbery, it’s because D.A. George Barnhill immediately concluded Arbery was a criminal & that he attacked the men who were hunting him.— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) May 7, 2020
This is letter Barnhill sent to the Brunswick authorities pic.twitter.com/vsGCboful7
11. April 2, 2020
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Police report sheds more light on Satilla Shores shooting https://t.co/Zi6YVGTkhK— The Brunswick News (@Brunswick_News) April 2, 2020
12. April 3, 202012 of 43
13. April 1313 of 43
14. April 26, 2020
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We’ll never know how often Black life is taken, justice denied:— Dr. Malinda S. Smith (@MalindaSmith) May 9, 2020
“Two Weapons, a Chase, a Killing and No Charges.
A 25-year-old man running through a Georgia neighborhood ended up dead. A prosecutor argued that the pursuers should not be arrested” @nytimes https://t.co/pJA6kSK6cj
15. April 28, 202015 of 43
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20. May 8, 2020
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On what would have been his 26th birthday, people were jogging 2.23 miles in his honor to signify the date he was killed by Gregory and Travis McMichael, who racially profiled and shot the jogger in Brunswick, Georgia. #IrunwithMaud #IRunwithAhmaudhttps://t.co/V2KuBaeKjx— NewsOne (@newsone) May 9, 2020
21. May 9, 2020Source:Getty 21 of 43
22. May 10, 202022 of 43
23. May 11, 2020
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Another huge WIN for #JusticeForAhmaud! At the family’s demand— a special prosecutor will replace Tom Durden the S. GA prosecutor that sat on the case until video of Ahmaud’s murder was leaked. Joyette Holmes is out of @cobbcountygovt. Her office is being reviewed for conflicts. pic.twitter.com/rcuQ7UPOfE— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 11, 2020
24. May 12, 2020Source:Twitter 24 of 43
25. May 13, 2020
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“Ahmaud, I am so sorry. I should have stopped them,” reads the note. “I am so sorry.” The card was not signed by a name and no more information or context was provided, including when the card was left there. https://t.co/nzzY5aNple— NewsOne (@newsone) May 14, 2020
26. May 14, 2020Source:Getty 26 of 43
27. May 18, 2020
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Because this story wasn't bad enough now we discover Lindsay McMichael, the daughter and sister of Ahmaud Arbery’s alleged killers, posted a picture of Ahmaud’s deceased body to snapchat pic.twitter.com/RwTwzrAXAG— Reese Waters (@reesewaters) May 19, 2020
28. May 18, 202028 of 43
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30. May 20, 2020
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Today, the GA Congressional Delegation co-signed a letter to U.S. AG William Barr and Asst AG Eric Dreiband, encouraging the use of “all possible Federal resources to achieve full justice, transparency, and accountability in the case of Mr. Ahmaud Arbery.” https://t.co/8FcMZEEKWF— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) May 20, 2020
31. May 21, 2020Source:WJAX 31 of 43
32. May 25, 2020
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NEW: Attorneys for Ahmaud Arbery's parents announce that the Department of Justice will be investigating Arbery's killing and why it took so long to arrest the people responsible. See their statement here: pic.twitter.com/yfcnrT5SjV— Hayley Mason (@HayleyMasonTV) May 26, 2020
33. June 2020
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Reports of a photo op with the president or standing with the White House during the EO signing are false.— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) June 16, 2020
Show me the civil rights leaders who are upset about families making a direct appeal for federal intervention after the murder of their loved one & I’ll show you a clown. pic.twitter.com/GXR5arB8Mz
34. June 17, 2020Source:WJAX 34 of 43
35. November 2020Source:Getty 35 of 43
36. December 2020
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William ‘Roddie’ Bryan tried to publicly absolve himself of having any part in Ahmaud Arbery’s modern-day lynching, but this newly released bodycam footage confirms what we long suspected: He clearly used his truck to block Ahmaud's escape from the McMichaels! pic.twitter.com/UAms4LYS28— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) December 15, 2020
37. January 2021Source:Getty 37 of 43
38. February 2021Source:Getty 38 of 43
39. Feb. 23, 2021Source:Getty 39 of 43
40. April 2021Source:Getty 40 of 43
41. May 2021Source:Getty 41 of 43
42. September 2021
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This is the mugshot of disgraced District Attorney Jackie Johnson who was just arrested today for her role in the coverup of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. pic.twitter.com/OKF2xKkV3Z— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) September 8, 2021
43. October 2021Source:Getty 43 of 43
Freedom To Vote Act: 5 Things To Know About The Landmark Voting Rights Legislation was originally published on newsone.com