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Warnock addresses Senate committee on voting rights

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 5:01 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (WRDW/WAGT) - Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during a hearing Tuesday where he discussed the right to vote in Georgia and across the country.

He pressed for passage of federal voting rights legislation.

Warnock called for bipartisan support for federal voting rights legislation like the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Warnock’s remarks, and the hearing, followed the introduction of proposals in 47 states, including Georgia, regulating voting options, ranging from instituting ID requirements to changing rules for drop boxes.

Fellow Georgians Stacey Abrams, former minority leader in the Georgia House and founder of Fair Fight, as well as Dr. Carol Anderson, the Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies and Chair of African American Studies at Emory University, also participated in the hearing.

Key excerpts from Warnock’s remarks

  • “Record numbers of Georgians used their voices and voted in the last election. And in response to this swell in democratic participation, politicians and our state legislature responded not in celebration, but with retaliation. Not seeing the outcome they wanted, they could have gotten busy changing their message or adjusting their policy. Instead, they got busy changing the rules as if the democracy belongs to them, and not the people.”
  • “We may be tempted to dissect these bills, as if analyzing them piece by piece makes them more rational. But that narrow analysis only obscures the larger, unmistakable picture: this is a full-fledged assault on voting rights, unlike anything we seen since the era of Jim Crow.”
  • “Just 15 years ago, the United States Congress re-authorized the Voting Rights Act of 1965 under a Republican President and with a bipartisan vote in the Senate of ninety-eight to zero. At the time, our colleague Senator Mitch McConnell, praised its passage, declaring it a law that would make a difference for all of America. Many members of this Committee, including the Chair and Ranking Members, enthusiastically voted in favor of it. That was 2006—why shouldn’t voting rights legislation be just as bipartisan now in 2021, as it was in 2006.
  • “Voting rights should always be bipartisan. It is not the difference between right and left, but the difference between right and wrong.”
  • “Many argue that the U.S. Senate is dysfunctional and incapable of governing in a bipartisan manner. We can boldly refute these claims by coming together not as Democrats or Republicans, but as supporters of democracy itself, to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Together, these two bills would turn the tide against state-level voter suppression proposals across the country.”
  • “As we move forward in this discussion. I’ve asked myself on many occasions: What would have happened had we not passed federal legislation, affirming the covenant of our democracy in 1965? Where would Georgia be? How would it prosper on the other side of the segregationists’ curtain? We had not acted in 1965, what would our country look like? Surely, I would not be sitting here. Only the 11th Black senator in the history of our country. And the first Black senator in Georgia. And maybe that’s the point.”
  • “We’ve got to act. History is watching us. Our children are counting on us, and we must pass federal voting rights legislation, no matter what.”

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