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Dear Joe: It's Not Us, It's You

Illustration of a letter to Joe Biden, with "Dear Joe" at the top

Hey President Biden. It’s us, the American voters. We know you have a lot going on — a deadly global pandemic, the climate change crisis, a potential government shutdown. Your policy priority list is extensive, but it’s missing one key issue: protecting our freedom to vote. 

Our right to vote is under attack, and you aren’t supporting our democratic process with the enthusiasm we thought you had. 

Take your proclamation on National Voter Registration Day. The sentiments were nice but failed to respond to our fears about the anti-voter legislation passing in states at an alarming rate. Nor did your proclamation call out the gridlock in Congress on the Freedom to Vote Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.  

What happened to getting into “good trouble?”  

That midterm elections clock is ticking. Time is running out. If we don’t act now, we may not be able to salvage our freedom to vote. 

Just a couple of weeks ago we rallied outside the White House and said: “No more excuses. Voting rights now!” Your team acknowledged our presence and your support for our concerns. But where is the action? “Promoting access to voting rights” falls far short of the action we need. Are you willing to go beyond just promoting our freedom to vote? 

We need you to be the leader that will get these bills across the finish line. Protecting voting rights is the key to addressing all the issues that are keeping all of us up at night.  

Photo of Dr. Deborah Ann Turner, Rabbi Pesner, Virginia Kase Solomón, Rev. McDonald, and Ben Jealous holding a banner that reads "President Biden, No more excuses: Voting Rights Now!"

Without voting rights, none of your work on the other issues will matter. You won’t be able to make progress on improving the lives of Americans, ending this pandemic, strengthening health care, and advancing social justice. We want those things too. 

We heard you say you want to help us, but your lack of action tells us a different story. We’re asking you for protection, especially those of us targeted by anti-voter laws — Black voters, voters of color, voters with disabilities, formerly incarcerated voters, women voters, young voters, and elderly voters. 

You’ve got power, Joe, and we're counting on you to use it. If you used the full power of the presidency today, you could bring lawmakers together, fix or nix the filibuster, and ensure the passage of federal voting rights legislation for us — the American people. More voters would be able to participate in elections, and the people could raise support for all the other vital issues.  

We’re frustrated, but we’re not giving up. We’re going to keep showing up at the White House until we see you step up your commitment to voters and actively work with Congressional leaders to secure the votes necessary to pass meaningful, lasting voting rights legislation. 

Like you said in your proclamation, “The right to vote is central to who we are as a Nation and a people.” We agree. So constantly delayed progress on voting rights legislation in Congress cannot be acceptable to you.   

President Biden, it’s not us, it’s you. Step up and show us that we, the voters, are your priority.  

If we can’t protect voting rights this year, you might be the last democratically elected president. That’s not the legacy any of us want for you. It’s time to get moving on protecting our democracy.   

Impatiently, 

The American Voters 
 
By Virginia Kase Solomón, CEO, League of Women Voters, Ben Jealous, President, People For the American Way, and Jana Morgan, Declaration for American Democracy