Throughout American history, people have marched, fought, bled, and died for the sacred and cherished right to vote. From the early days of the nation when very few Americans could have their voices heard at the ballot box to now, America has come a long way to expand the right to the majority of Americans.
However, voter oppression and suppression still exists to this day, with much of that progress has stalled in recent years, especially with the gutting of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Supreme Court’s decision to undermine this long overdue piece of legislation allowed states to disenfranchise millions of voters, particularly Black Americans and young Americans.
Congresswoman Trahan believes our democracy is strongest when every American is able to participate in it. She is committed to restoring the Voting Rights Act in full and building on its progress to make voting more accessible for all Americans.
Access to the Ballot Box Amid COVID-19
Congresswoman Trahan believes the federal government has the responsibility to provide states and localities with the resources necessary to protect the health of their citizens while also protecting access to the ballot box during this public health crisis. This is why Congresswoman Trahan is strongly in favor of nationwide vote-by-mail throughout all elections that occur during the COVID-19 pandemic, creating accessibility for all Americans to have their voice heard.
Federal Response to COVID-19
When the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Act was signed into law in March 2020, Congress allocated $400 million to states and localities to help implement proper safety protocols and expansion of vote-by-mail efforts for the 2020 elections.
To build on the advancements in the CARES Act, the House voted in May 2020 to pass the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which provided an additional $3.6 billion for states to make their election systems safe for voters and poll workers. That legislation, including the funding for safe elections, was opposed by the Senate.
Vote by Mail Advancements in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation passed by the State House and Senate providing the option to all registered voters in the Bay State to vote-by-mail in the primary and general elections. Congresswoman Trahan believes Americans should never have to choose between protecting their health and participating in our democracy. She will continue to support measures that ensure safe access to the ballot box nationwide.
Additional Legislative Action to Ensure Voting Rights for All
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019
More than 50 years ago, Congress passed, and President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For decades, the law protected voters from attempts by partisan officials looking to disenfranchise them. Among the law’s critical tools was its “pre-clearance” requirement, which mandated a federal review and approval of any changes to election laws made by several states with a history of voter discrimination.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the preclearance requirement in its 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision. Since the court’s decision, several states have implemented burdensome voter identification laws, closed polling places in highly populated areas, shortened early voting hours, and taken other measures to restrict Americans’ ability to cast their vote.
Congresswoman Trahan is an original cosponsor of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. If enacted, this legislation would effectively reverse the Shelby decision and restore the Voting Rights Act in full. Thus, prohibiting voter suppression tactics that have been employed in recent years.
Our democracy is strongest when every American participates. Congresswoman Trahan will continue to advance legislation that works for the people and preserves our democratic system.
For the People Act
Congresswoman Trahan secured House passage of two amendments to the For the People Act: a provision enhancing ballot access for the families of our brave servicemembers in uniform and a provision prohibiting the agents of foreign governments from exercising influence over the drawing of new congressional districts.
The For the People Act, will help to restore Americans’ trust in the political system by implementing automatic voter registration across the country, expanding early voting, banning voter purges, strengthening disclosure requirements for political campaign expenditures and donors, and fortifying ethics laws by requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.
Congresswoman Trahan is a proud sponsor of the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act. The SAFE Act mandates strict cybersecurity standards for election technology vendors and voting systems, ensuring that voting machines are manufactured in the US. This bill also requires post-election audits that help detect inaccuracies to strengthen election integrity.