tv U.S. Senate Sens. Lujan Rosen on Voting Rights CSPAN January 20, 2022 6:12am-6:35am EST
a senator: mr. president, i want to start by thanking all of the senators who have come to the floor to make the case for democracy and for voting rights. mr. lujan:: the right to vote is the heartbeat of our democracy, it is a symbol of the progress that we have made in this chamber and the promise that we have made to the next generation of americans.
this legislation will protect the right to vote for all, safeguard against election sabotage, and end partisan gerrymandering, limit the influence of dark money in politics so that billionaires and corporations cannot buy elections. protecting our democracy should not be partisan. it should be a moral and civic imperative for every one of us. as a former united states senator from new mexico said, the late-dennis chavez who served in this chamber for 27 years until his passing in 1962, said we are all free -- either we are all free or we fail. democracy belongs to all of us. our democracy faces clear and present dangers posed by republican-led state legislatures across the country.
some lawmakers want to curtail the right to vote, not for all americans but for the most vulnerable. and historically disenfranchised. and if we think it's bad now with what's happened in these state legislatures over the last few months, it's about to get a lot worse. history will not look kindly on inaction at this critical moment, and we must show the american people that we will not flinch when faced with the choice to protect our democracy and let it crumble before our eyes. there is a pattern of rapid discrimination that is disenfranchising countless black and brown voters across this country. now, in 2005, jesus gonzalez became a naturalized citizen.
on the same day he swore an oath to the united states, he sought to register to vote in arizona. he was rejected. so he tried again after he obtained a license, but again he was rejected. it was then that mr. gonzalez, a school janitor, sued the state. his case made its way to the supreme court, who in 2013 ruled in his favor and struck down arizona's law. mr. gonzalez was one of 31,000 voters in arizona affected by such a discriminatory law. just this past september, the mexican american legal defense fund joined other civil rights organizations in suing texas over its discriminatory voting legislation known as s.b. 1. we have heard a lot about it
today. among other things, sb-1 seeks to curb the assistance available to limited english-proficient voters, and this 2006 they successfully sued texas. in that case it lulac v. perry you the supreme court found that texas violated the voting rights act by denying latinos the ability to elect a candidate of their choosing. 2017, maldep again sued in texas after the city of pasadena sought to weaken the latina vote by changing the way city-equity willed city council members. here are just some of the chapters of a long history of voter suppression. now, we also know that voter suppression of native americans is real and its intentional.
until 2020, north dakota voter i.d. laws required a residential street address. now, that may sound like common sense to some folks, but for those of us those of that live in rural communities and for my brothers and sisters that live in native american communities, we all grew up with rural route boxes. my address was route 1 box 102. not because i didn't want a street address named after my grandparents, like it is today. that was the address. now, because of that law in north dakota, many native americans like richard breakbuilt, who is a navy veteran, have been denied the right to vote because of an expired driver's license and a tribal i.d. that get this, did not have a current residential address. it had the post office box. that was his address. in 2020, the candidacy of joseph deadman, a member of the navajo
nation, was challenged in arizona because he included post office boxes which are often the only form of an address for rural native american households. it's the only one they can obtain. on his petition to office. 2020, arizona's pima county closed an early center and spent nearly $200,000 in legal fees rather than reinstate the voting center. south dakota provided a fully funded polling place and early voting and registration opportunity to the 12 non-native american residents in gann valley, but get this -- they refused to provide the same services to the 1,200-plus residents on crow creek tribal lands. in 2021, kimberly dylan, a citizen of rosebud sioux, she joined the oglala and rosebud
sioux tribes in suing south dakota for requiring voters to register as state agencies and d.m.v.'s which were hours away from tribal lands. they were making it harder for people to even get registered to vote by saying drive three and four hours away. many neighbors went to great lengths to submit their voter registrations to those state agencies but the agencies never sent them to the local election offices, even after they traversed and got that job done in making that journey. they just want to submit them to let them get registered to vote. as a result, her right to vote in the 2020 presidential election was taken away. kimberly asked, and i quote, how many other people face this violation of our basic freedom to vote? we cannot allow voter suppression to continue in south
dakota or anywhere in native america. these are american citizens whose rights were taken away from them for partisan advantage. jesus and kimberly's voices were taken away from them, just like countless other americans who face the same discrimination. 19 states have passed 34 laws making it easier to sabotage election law and target voters of color, and not all of them had a supermajority or two-thirds vote. in 2016, representative david louis, a republican state lawmaker in north carolina, and member of the general assembly's redistricting committee, said -- and i quote -- i propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to ten republicans and three democrat representatives because i do not believe it is possible to draw a map with 11
republicans and two democrats. this is not new. this has been going on decade after decade. the only thing that's different now is in 2013 when the supreme court gutted the enforcement provisions of the voting rights act, republican-led legislatures don't have to hide behind it any longer. now they just say they're going to draw for partisan advantage. they're going to change the rules to keep certain communities from voting, making it harder for people to get to that battle box. this is nothing new and shame on all of us for not acting when the supreme court told us this in 2013. that's on all of us. but we're here today. we're also seeing an uptick in violence as a result of the lies across the country, the big lie. the department of homeland security has seen an increase in
violence as a result of these baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election. we're losing honest election officials and poll workers because of threats against their lives. due to conspiracy theories and lies pushed by the former president. the freedom to vote, john r. lewis act will protect the vote of working families across the country. and only one archaic parliamentary measure prohibits all this progress. the filibuster does not increase deliberation in this chamber. it does not incentivize compromise. so while some claim that amending the filibuster will further the country's division, i disagree. right now it's only aiding and abetting obstructionists and opponents of progress. when it comes to voting on civil rights legislation. while the filibuster is not mentioned a single time in the constitution --
mr. schumer: may the senator pause for an interruption. thank you. i ask unanimous consent that the cloture vote on the motion to concur with at:00 p.m. -- be at 8:00 p.m. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. schumer: thank you. i appreciate the courtesy of my colleague. he had no choice but to do it at 6:30. mr. lujan:: so the importance of us being here today goes right in the face of us having this conversation and debate. i appreciate my republican colleagues have come to the floor to engage in some debate and some colloquy. i, like senator kaine, came to the senate a bit naive. i thought debate happened here all the time. i came here thinking that i could offer an amendment at any time, that i could offer a unanimous consent at any time. it's not the case. this is not the senate that our founders envisioned.
if you feel moved to oppose a piece of legislation, if you're passionate about an issue, you should have the courage to document senate floor in front -- to come to the senate floor in front of your colleagues and the american people. you should not be allowed to phone it in from behind closed doors. this chamber has changed, just as the times have changed. so it's the responsibility of every one of us to make sure that the senate works better not for us, but for the american people. in cloafg, in 18 -- in closing, in 1805 vice president aaron burr suggested that the senate remove from its rules the previous question motion which allowed the chamber's simple majority to end debate on a bill. he viewed the rule as completely unnecessary and urged the senate to clean up its rule book because after everyone spoke and debated, they'd vote. a year later the senate removed the previous question motion, leaving a loophole that allowed the minority to take advantage and use what we now know is the
filibuster. unfortunately, byrd could not foresee the obstructionism of decades to come. proslavery senators co-opted the filibuster to protect the interests of white southern enslavers. men such as january calhoun eabd the filibuster. 30 measures favored by the sitting president, simple majorities in the house and senate, half of which addressed civil rights, they all died thanks to the filibuster. the same procedural tool proved to be even more useful to southern senators who sought to block civil rights legislation, including anti-lynching bills. not until 1964 did the senate successfully overcome a filibuster to pass important civil rights legislation and scwenlt -- subsequent voting rights legislation. history should act as a teacher to all of us.
history will remind us who voted today on the side of the people. i'm proud that this effort includes my native american voting rights act which will ensure tribes and native americans and alaska natives and voters on tribal lands will have equal access to the electoral process, access to the ballot box is the cornerstone of our democratic system. and without equitable access to it, we cannot stand on the world stage and claim that we're all leaders in the fight for liberty and justice for all. now my republican colleagues have proven time and again that they're not interested in acting on this issue. washington republicans have made the political calculation that they have a partisan advantage here. they are too comfortable shrugging their shoulders and sitting on the sidelines while states chip away at the right to vote. i know where i stand, mr. president. all we're asking for today is the opportunity to vote on this critical piece of legislation after everyone here has said
their piece. i urge my colleagues to do the right thing today, to do right by our democracy, and to send the freedom to vote john r. lewis act to the president's desk. i thank you all, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. ms. rosen: thank you. our democracy is extraordinary because it is built on the bedrock idea that through free and fair elections, the citizens who make up this great country, they have a voice, that each person's vote truly matters, that in america the people have the power. but at this moment our democracy is threatened.
republican state legislatures and governors all over the country are writing laws designed to restrict the right to vote, make it harder for tens of millions of eligible citizens to cast their ballot in silence -- and silence the american people's voice in the process. make no mistake, this is an unprecedented coordinated attack to make voting harder for eligible citizens and make it easier to sabotage future elections. in my state of nevada, we bucked that trend when it comes to voting rights, r strengthened the right to vote providing easier access to the ballot box for voters while ensuring fair elections. these measures that governor steve sisolak signed into law include establishing a permanent
vote-by-mail system, expanding the early voting period and making it more convenient to register and to vote. but while nevada has moved forward to protect and strengthen voting rights, we are not immune from the attempts to sabotage it. in nevada, the leading republican candidate for our secretary of state stated that he would have refused -- i repeat, would have refused to certify president biden's victory in our state, even though the results were certified by a republican secretary of state and unanimously upheld by the nevada supreme court. that same candidate opened the door to certifying alternate, alternate electors in future presidential elections in nevada, contrary to the actual election results.
and in nevada, the leading republican candidates for governor are promising to undo our progress and make it harder for nevadans to vote because they refuse to accept the results of the 2020 election. they're pushing the former president's false conspiracy theories that fueled the january 6 insurrection. attacks like these, they are a growing threat to democracy and exactly, exactly the reason we need to act urgently. if we fail to do so, if we fail to do so here and now, new state laws will result in hours-long lines at the polls. overturned election results and masses of disenfranchised voters. so let's talk about solutions. smart solutions, solutions that give every eligible voter equal access to the ballot box. the freedom to vote act combined
with the john lewis voting right advancement act meets this moment. it meets the moment we are in with our democracy in crisis. it delivers real, meaningful action. first, this bill makes it easy for people to register to vote. it does this by requiring states to allow eligible americans to register online and on election day, as well as update our automatic voter registration system. this bill would also require states to accurately maintain their voter registration lists and protect voters against unwarranted purges from the voter rolls. this way those who should be eligible to vote can do so without hassle or harassment. the freedom to vote act gives americans more choices on when and how they can legally vote
through national standards for early in-person voting, expanded mail-in voting, and finally making election day a national holiday. because even if you're a hardworking american who's busy working long hours, looking after your children, caring for a sick relative, you should still have access to the ballot box. this bill would ensure election security and prevent partisan sabotage by requiring post election audits and enhancing, enhancing protections for election records. the freedom to vote act would also take long needed steps to end political corruption in our elections. it would accomplish this by protecting u.s. elections from foreign interference, by
prohibiting false information designed to dissuade eligible voters, by promoting online ad transparency, and by putting an end to that dark money in our elections. to borrow a few words from the late congressman john lewis, my former colleague from the house, a legendary civil rights leader, an american hero for whom this bill is named, an inspiration to us all and to people all around the world, john lewis said, and i quote, the right to vote is the most powerful tool in a democracy. i'm going to repeat those words from john lewis. listen closely. the right to vote is the most
powerful tool in a democracy. each person's vote is their voice. it's every citizen's opportunity to weigh in to what matters most to them, for their family, for their community, for their country, for the world. it matters. it is fundamental to our democracy, to the very definition of what it means to be an american citizen. for each and every one of us to stand up, to stand tall, to get to the ballot box, be able to vote the way we choose and have the assurance that our vote is counted. it matters. each person matters. and so if the senate cannot move forward on this critically important legislation under the status quo, then it is time to reform the rules to restore the senate to pass this legislation legislation, because only then can we protect our