Senator Cory Booker, one of many Democratic presidential contenders, has joined calls to make Election Day a federal holiday and proposed a “new Voting Rights Act” during a speech in Atlanta.
Booker called for sweeping reforms to improve voting rights, including universal automatic voting registration, which would allow more Americans to vote by mail, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The New Jersey Democrat’s proposal also called for the availability of ballots in different languages and restoring voting rights to formerly incarcerated people.
“For years, the right to vote for millions of Americans—disproportionately in communities of color—has been under assault,” Booker told a crowd of about 150 people at the historic soul food restaurant Paschal’s, according to The Hill. “It is time for a new Voting Rights Act to finally put an end to systematic attempts to limit access to the ballot box and strip citizens of their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.”
He added, “During my presidency, we will fight to protect and expand every American’s right to take part in our democracy.”
Booker’s team did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for comment.
According to The Hill, Booker’s proposal also includes restoring a Voting Rights Act provision which was shut down by the Supreme Court in 2013. In a 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that states could change their elections laws without first running it by the federal government, The New York Times reported. The ruling allowed states to pass voter identification laws, make changes to voting procedures, or redraw electoral districts without federal supervision.
Booker’s proposal would make sure to “prevent the kind of voting suppression and voter roll purging” reported in Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial race, the senator’s campaign said. Booker blasted Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams, and other GOP members for a “stunning and unacceptable” erosion of voting rights, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Democrats have accused Kemp and Republicans at large of using state laws to suppress the votes of minorities. Kemp was also criticized for not resigning as Georgia’s secretary of state during the election amid claims that the role created a conflict of interest to his candidacy.
Booker’s remarks about voting rights are not unusual given legislation he has promoted as a senator. In April 2018, Booker joined Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, both Democrats, in introducing a bill to make it easier for college students to vote. The Help Students Vote Act would require institutions to distribute voter registration forms to students. However, the bill died before a vote.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said voting rights were one of the “three biggest issues” facing the country ahead of the 2020 election. Schumer revealed a list of voting rights-related priorities in March that included restoring the Voting Rights Act preclearance mechanism, a universal voter-registration law, and making Washington, DC, into a state.
Democrats running in the 2020 presidential election along with Booker have also voiced support for expanding voting rights, particularly to formerly incarcerated people. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed allowing incarcerated people to vote from prison, while Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called for allowing formerly incarcerated people to vote.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.