This Vote on Voting Rights Failed, But the Fight Cannot Be Over

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Trevor Potter, president of Campaign Legal Center (CLC), and a Republican former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, released the following statement:

“Tonight is a disappointing night for all who have been fighting for the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act (H.R. 5746)—a critical piece of legislation aimed at strengthening our democracy. Indeed, this month and this past year have been rough for everyone who cares about the freedom to vote.

This legislation was crafted with the aim of achieving goals that have long had bipartisan support and are viewed favorably by a strong majority of Americans—goals like prohibiting gerrymandering, increasing disclosure of money spent in federal elections, protecting the freedom to vote, fighting election sabotage by protecting the independence of election officials, and restoring and modernizing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

These should not have become partisan issues.

I still have hope that we can achieve these goals and so should you. The road ahead might be a bit more challenging, but I urge everyone not to buy into the “All is Lost” media narrative that is already playing out.

The important work of strengthening our democracy must continue. Through litigation and work in the states, groups like Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and our allies have already been scoring wins on multiple fronts in fights against gerrymandering and numerous barriers to voting. Although these wins are mostly incremental, local wins and state work are critical as we push forward.

Members of Congress cannot and should not think they are done with the work needed to strengthen our democracy. They can block moving the legislation forward and go on recess, but they should only do so knowing that their work is not done until voting rights protections are passed and signed into law. 

As the great John Lewis, for whom this bill is named, once wrote, "You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself."

With the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, the Senate has the opportunity to require a strong, free and fair voting system in this country and ensure the ability for every American to participate in safe, accessible and transparent elections.

Tonight, we experienced a setback at the hands of 50 Senate Republicans and 2 Senate Democrats. But tomorrow, we get up and continue to push for accessible voting and a democracy that is responsive to the people. In the meantime, I must take this moment to thank Leader Schumer and the other Democratic Senators who spent countless hours fighting for their constituents. Their work cannot be forgotten.

Moving forward, we cannot stop letting Congress know that we care, not until the promise of democracy is truly realized for each and every American.”