State Democratic lawmakers joined their counterparts across the country at a Washington rally Tuesday urging the U.S. Senate to delay next week’s August recess to pass a voting rights bill.
The For the People Act is their best hope to stop recent state laws tightening voting regulations in more than a dozen states, including Florida.
Sen. Annette Taddeo of Miami-Dade, along with Reps. Anna Eskamani of Orlando, Yvonne Hinson of Gainesville, Travaris McCurdy of Orlando and Carlos Guillermo Smith, also of Orlando, were in photos posted from the event. State Sens. Randolph Bracy of Ocoee was also there, his colleagues said.
“Recess can wait, democracy can’t,” came the chant from the Capitol lawn. The struggle democracy faces in this country is real, Taddeo said.
“I am here in Washington, D.C., because the freedom to vote and have people elect their own representatives instead of politicians picking their voters is an urgent matter right here in the United States of America,” Taddeo said, eliciting cheers from the crowd at the live-streamed event.
The clock is ticking on the For the People Act. For it to affect the upcoming midterms, it has to be passed by the end of summer, according to the Declaration for American Democracy that organized Tuesday’s rally. Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked it from proceeding last month.
The bill would create a national system for registering voters. It would also establish a national standard for mail-in voting, which was recently changed in Florida.
The Florida Legislature was one of the first states among those that voted for President Donald Trump to change its voting laws. Critics say the changes will make it harder for Democrats to get elected. Lawmakers reduced the amount of time that voters are automatically sent a mail-in ballot, among other changes.
Similar voting regulations were passed in 16 other states and would be superseded by this new, federal law, according to the Brennan Center, an independent, nonpartisan law and policy organization.
Proud to be speaking at the #RecessCanWait rally in DC today calling upon @SenSchumer + Congress to delay recess until the #ForthePeopleAct is passed — we urgently need these reforms in Florida to protect our right to vote, especially after @GovRonDeSantis signed SB 90! 🗳 pic.twitter.com/LvCVMJlTlQ
— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) August 3, 2021
Smith elicited boos from the crowd with the mention of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ name, recalling how the Governor signed the new voting legislation live on Fox News. This occurred even though the day after the 2020 election he had declared the state’s election a model for the rest of the country to follow, Smith said.
“If Florida was a model for the rest of the country to follow, why all the obstacles that disproportionately affect people of color?” Smith asked the crowd.
Taddeo said she will be part of a group of lawmakers marching to the White House before she returns to Florida. Lawmakers are also here in solidarity with Texas state Democratic lawmakers who walked out of a vote that would have also changed voting laws in Texas.
“It’s an historic moment to send a strong message to Congress,” Taddeo said.