Congress must bolster voting rights and invest in the protection of our election system

Over 6 million infections. Nearly 200,000 lives lost and hundreds more each day. Millions unemployed. These are the statistics of COVID 19 — a global health pandemic that has disturbed the livelihood of our communities, created an economic crisis, and caused this American tragedy.

With a critical election only weeks away, our nation is facing a pivotal moment as we grapple with multiple crises. In the middle of this deadly pandemic, racial injustice and police brutality have brought millions of Americans into the streets to protest the failures of our justice system and to fight against systemic inequalities. As fires rage in the western states and hurricanes cause massive damage along the southern coast, the cost of denying climate change is clear. Instead of marshalling the vast resources and talent this nation has to offer in order to combat these crises, the president is sowing chaos and division. He has chosen to focus the power of the oval office and the machinery of the executive branch on a campaign of misinformation and lies. Now, the president has launched a full on assault on the right to vote by undermining vote by mail efforts, gutting the effectiveness of the United States Postal Service, and by blocking voting reforms and by insinuating that any result that does not hand him victory is fraudulent.

Our country deserves better. American workers are facing layoffs at historic levels, millions of children are food insecure, testing and treatment for COVID-19 is still limited, as many as 40 million Americans are at risk for eviction, and systemic racism is killing Black communities. The seismic change our country needs right now depends on the ability of all Americans to have a voice at the ballot box this November. As founding members of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, we know that this pandemic will exacerbate the existing challenges that voters already face when they vote. Republicans in Congress must fight against the administration's assaults on the right to vote and the security of our electoral system.

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State primaries and early voting data indicates an unprecedented number of American voters will choose to cast their ballot by mail for the November election. We cannot wait any longer. The House passed the Heroes Act with $25 billion for the United States Postal Service and $3.6 billion for planning, preparation and resilience of elections more than four months ago.

The Republican majority in the Senate must stop obstructing the passage of transformative legislative measures passed by the House. They must also vote on H.R.1, the For the People Act and H.R.4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020. In order to protect the right to vote and maintain Americans’ confidence in our elections, we must restore protections that prohibit discriminatory voting practices, bolster voter registration practices, and invest in election infrastructure and technology to protect the security of our electoral system.

As we celebrate this National Voting Rights Month and National Voter Registration Day, we call on our colleagues in the Senate to be guided by the words of the late civil rights leader and Congressman John LewisJohn LewisKwanza Hall wins race to briefly succeed John Lewis in Congress Congress must act to protect and expand Social Security benefits Ossoff features Obama in TV ad ahead of Georgia runoff MORE, who said, “The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHillicon Valley: GOP chairman says defense bill leaves out Section 230 repeal | Senate panel advances FCC nominee | Krebs says threats to election officials 'undermining democracy' On The Money: Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms | Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks | Poll: Most Americans support raising taxes on those making at least 0K Nearly one-third of US adults expect to lose employment income: Census Bureau MORE, stop putting politics over people and start protecting the sacred right to vote. American lives depend on it.

Rep. Veasey represents the 33rd District of Texas and Rep. Sewell represents the 7th District of Alabama. They are founders and co-chairs of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus.