Senate Democrats are hoping to pass a sweeping voting rights bill on Wednesday that seeks to make it easier to vote in elections.
Under the For The People Act, which directly impacts the Black community, the proposed legislation could see up to 50 million people automatically registered to vote, expand same-day voting and online voter registration, extend early voting by two weeks and restore formerly incarcerated persons their 15th Amendment rights, according to When We All Vote, former First Lady Michelle Obama‘s voting rights organization.
The bill also seeks to make Election Day a national holiday which could provide thousands of Americans the ability to take time away from work to vote. New drivers who are 16 and 17 years old would be allowed to pre-register to vote so once they turn 18 they would automatically be in the system.
Additionally, the bill would ban partisan gerrymandering and discriminatory purges.
Obama, alongside When We All Vote, penned a letter on Tuesday urging Americans to call on their leaders and ask them to support the bill described as the “most critical Civil Rights legislation since the Civil Rights movement.”
“So today we call on Americans of conscience and goodwill to join us in taking a stand for voting rights and to put the power more firmly in the hands of the people. We urge every American to remember how it felt to watch as our Capitol was desecrated earlier this year—and to channel that outrage into patriotic duty,” the letter read.
“We are asking you to join us by calling on your Senators to pass the For the People Act immediately—you can join our efforts right now at www.WhenWeAllVote.org,” it continued.
According to letter, more than 250 bills across the country have been introduced with the intent of stricter voting access mainly impacting the Black community.
“What’s happening is this: After more Americans than ever voted in the last presidential election, some state leaders believe that silencing them is the only way to maintain their grip on power,” the letter stated. “They’re hoping to choose their voters, rather than the other way around. And if we as Americans stand idly by—if we wait for others to act or we refuse to do so with anything other than clear purpose and full-hearted patriotism—they will succeed.”
The legislation, also referred to as S.1, was originally introduced in 2019 but was blocked by then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, NPR reported. Now that Democrats have a slight majority with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote, Senate Democrats have a better chance at passing the bill.
The Senate Rules Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday determining the future of the bill which was initially announced last week.
“We will see if our Republican friends join us. If they don’t join us, our caucus will come together and decide the appropriate action to take,” Schumer said. “Failure is not an option.”
Although Schumer appeared optimistic, at least 10 Republicans will need to vote in favor of the bill to defeat a filibuster.