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Harris, CBC put weight behind activist-led National Black Voter Day

The National Urban League and BET for the second consecutive year are recognizing the third Friday of September as National Black Voter Day, an initiative that was started last year to encourage Black Americans registering to vote ahead of the presidential election.

This year, BET will feature ad spots with Vice President Harris, while also televising a pair of events from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference Friday evening.

Additionally, Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) will introduce a resolution to the House designating National Black Voter Day as the third Friday of September.  

"The current wave of racially-motivated voter suppression laws streaming out of statehouses across the country is the biggest threat to voting rights we have seen since the dark days of Jim Crow," National Urban League president and CEO Marc Morial said in a statement. 

"National Black Voter Day serves as a rallying cry for all Americans who hold the principles of democracy dear, and who refuse to be guided by hatred and fear," he added. 

Almost a year after November's contentious presidential election, a fierce partisan battle over voting rights is still raging.

At least 30 bills that restrict voting access in some way have become law across 18 GOP-controlled states, with hundreds more being introduced.

Democrats and advocates see the wave of voting-related measures as blatant voter suppression and a byproduct of former President Trump's claims that the race was stolen from him through voter fraud. Such fraud is generally rare and there is no evidence significant fraud happened in the last presidential election. 

Republicans argue the laws are needed to ensure against voter fraud, and that they will not suppress the vote of minorities.

Pressure on Democrats in Congress to pass legislation that would effectively combat the new state-level laws has steadily increased. But Democrats do not have the votes to end the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation, and they do not have GOP support in the Senate for a significant voting rights measure.

Senate Republicans filibustered the For the People Act when it came up in the Senate; it won zero GOP support.

On Monday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and a gaggle of other Democratic senators, including moderate Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced the Freedom to Vote Act, a slimmed-down version of the doomed legislation that they hope will attract better bipartisan support.

Democrats are also holding out hope for bipartisan backing of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, legislation that passed the House in August before the summer recess. 

Bearing the name of the late Georgia congressman and voting rights champion John Lewis (D), the legislation would restore and update the federal preclearance process in the Voting Rights Act that was gutted by a 2013 Supreme Court decision. 

Previously, the preclearance required states and localities with histories of racial discrimination to gain approval from the Justice Department before implementing any change to voting procedure.

The Lewis bill changes the formula to a more modern standard, now judging states and municipalities on their voting rights record of the past 25 years.

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