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NAACP, unions launching ad campaign in push for federal voting rights bill

NAACP, unions launching ad campaign in push for federal voting rights bill
© Greg Nash

A coalition of major unions and progressive groups including the NAACP are reportedly teaming up behind an ad campaign launching Monday in support of Democrats' voting rights legislation, the For the People Act.

In a press release, representatives for groups in the Democracy for All 2021 Action coalition, a group made up of major national progressive organizations including MoveOn, the Working Families Party and the Sierra Club as well as unions such as the Service Employees International Union, announced the launch of 30-second ad spots in three states and Washington D.C. in support of the For the People Act.

"It's a matter of making sure that the public knows what the real deal is and making sure that the Senate knows that we're watching," Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said of the effort. "Those who have been disenfranchised know they've been disenfranchised, but we need to make the case to the public that none of us should lose the protection of the most sacred right we have in the United States, which is the right to vote and to elect our political leaders."

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Derrick Johnson, head of the NAACP, told NBC News in a statement that the organization was fighting back against Republican-led efforts to restrict or discourage voting, which experts have warned disproportionately affects minorities including Black Americans.

A recently passed law in Georgia that criminalizes providing food or water to those in line to vote, among other restrictions, is "eerily similar to some of the efforts in the 1930s, '40s, '50s to really suppress the vote of African Americans," Johnson told NBC.

"That should not be tolerated," he added.

The For the People Act, also known as H.R. 1 in the House and S. 1 in the Senate, would require all states to allow mail-in ballots and automatic voter registration, introduce measures requiring presidents and vice presidents to disclose their tax returns, boost public funding for presidential elections and add a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices, as well as new ethics requirements for members of Congress.

The legislation has wide support on the left but faces a steep path to passage in the split 50-50 Senate, where the bill will almost certainly require 60 votes to pass due to Democrats' unwillingness to disregard rulings from the Senate's parliamentarian.