Education News

4 Actions Educators Can Take to Protect Voting Rights

Stacey Abrams spoke to delegates of the NEA RA on July 1 about voting rights, a recent Supreme Court Decision, and how educators can make their voices heard.

By Amanda Menas

Educators have the unique role of teaching young people about civil discourse. Putting lessons about voting and our history into practice in the classroom bolsters our democracy each and every day. However, in light of recent legislative stalls in Congress and egregious rulings by the Supreme Court, educators face the difficult task of combatting an anti-democratic agenda.

“You speak for so many young people who may not have the power to act on their own but they have you to lift their voices up, to make choices that can improve their lives, and share the values that can build a brighter future for each of them,” said Stacey Abrams to NEA delegates during the 2021 RA.

On July 1, the Supreme Court ruled in a case out of Arizona, weakening the Voting Rights Act once again. As Abrams and NEA President Becky Pringle spoke about tools to combat voter suppression, the ruling gave states permission to put new restrictions on who gets to vote.

Here are four ways Abrams said educators can make their voices heard and move forward in advancing voting rights in this country:

Keep your Legislators Accountable

“This summer, we need every single member of the NEA, every educator who believes that the right to vote should be sacred, we need you to stay on top of this. Reaching out to all of your legislators, especially your U.S. Senators, and it doesn’t matter whether you voted for them or not. They work for you now. You pay their salaries, you pay your taxes, and they are responsible for responding to you,” said Abrams.

The first step in putting these actions into practice is to email your senators and tell them to support S. 1 to strengthen our democracy and end voter suppression. The For the People Act is a comprehensive bill to expand, ensure, and strengthen voting rights nationwide.

Work to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act

“S.1 is about putting out the fires as they pop up, and the Voting Rights Advancement Act is about building the firehouse so we can anticipate new fires before they start. We have to have both and, and together they actually will work to protect the right to vote across this country,” said Abrams, quoting her Senator Raphael Warnock.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act, which is expected to be reintroduced this fall, would require states and localities with a history of voter discrimination to get approval from the U.S. Department of Justice before changing their election laws. These acts together will help restore faith in our democracy, encourage voters to participate in our political system, reassure Americans that their voices matter, and halt efforts to suppress the vote.

 

Practice Citizenship in the Classroom

“As we watch the Supreme Court aiding states at dismantling access to the right to vote, we should not be worried based on our partisanship. We should be worried based on our citizenship. Because it is an act of patriotism to defend the right to vote even for those with whom you disagree,” said Abrams to educators.

Exercising the right to vote has become more difficult in recent years. African Americans and other people of color, people with disabilities, students, and senior citizens are often the most disenfranchised.

As of mid-May, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, 389 bills introduced in 48 state legislatures included provisions that would make it even more difficult to vote. For example, some states allow for purging voter rolls and seizing control of local election boards. Twenty-five states have also imposed new restrictions ranging from strict photo ID requirements to absentee and early voting cutbacks to making it harder to register to vote. As efforts to suppress the vote continue the need for protections persists.

Take Action on Voting Rights

The For the People Act, a comprehensive bill to expand, ensure, and strengthen voting rights nationwide, failed to muster the 60-vote supermajority necessary to advance in the Senate. But this is just the first step in the process. We will be working with our labor and civil rights partners throughout the summer to make sure this bill comes up again. The Senate must continue to hear from us about the importance of this bill. It is up to us to ensure nationwide access to the right to vote, the bedrock of our democracy.

Email your senators and tell them to support S. 1 to strengthen our democracy and end voter suppression.

14 responses to “4 Actions Educators Can Take to Protect Voting Rights

  1. I have studied the 1965 law – which was intended to help illiterate people gain the right to vote and to prevent discrimination based on knowledge of the Constitution. There was also the more generalized enforcement of the 15th amendment. The wording of the 4th and 5th sections was very much directed at the issues of the time.

    While I agree that we need to have voter reform, I strongly support the requirement of having voter ID to register. Getting a state ID is not a difficult task, and if you are legally in the United States, you should not have any problem getting one. If you have problems with the language, then there should be a support system in place to help people register properly.

    The other issue I don’t understand to be a problem is the “use it or lose it” idea. If someone has not voted for several years, they should be required to re-register. This does not mean that they cannot vote. It means they need to step up and use their right to vote, not leave a paper trail for someone else to clean up.

    I think a part of our responsibility as educators is to educate ourselves as well as others about these issues. Yes, reform is necessary, but let’s keep it real – voter ID and advocacy to get out to vote or get re-registered are good ideas.

  2. Voting has been a right for a long time. We the teacher of your children and your children’s children need a voice. To keep education strong.

  3. Exactly, how are rights diminished? Is it because an ID is required. Wake up. IDs are required for everything from buying booze to signing my kids up for little league. There are more hours and more days available than ever before to vote. If you don’t want to leave your house, send in a request for an absentee ballot. My gosh.

    1. Many states have actually reduced voting hours and days and place significant restrictions on who can request an absentee ballot.

    2. Thank you, Scott…there is no voting rights suppression. We have more time and ways to vote than ever but heaven forbid you ask for ID to vote! Do these same people complain that TSA demands ID at an airport? ID DOES NOT VIOLATE YOUR VOTING RIGHTS!!

      1. I realize that you cannot understand what you cannot see. Since you are so passionate about this issue, I would encourage you to have a conversation with a group of people that feel their rights are suppressed. Visit their community, and see for yourself how easy it is for them to vote on Election Day. Then you can write all about it.

  4. Voting Rights are a must for our entire nation. For the People’s Act (S.1) needs to be passed now by the majority of the Senate. We need to strengthen our democracy and end voter suppression no matter your zip-codes. If this bill is not passed we will take a giant step backwards from our 2020 elections where the voter turnout was a giant step in this country because the people believed that we could not go on with a bully in the pulpit demoralizing everyday people for their own glory in the lime light defying all laws of our country. Let stand up for all our people of these United States.

    1. No Law has been passed that suppresses voters rights. If people can have cell phones, can go and get alcohol, can purchase cigarettes (disgusting habit), and do other things that require an ID, they can vote. Stop listening to Miss Stacy, the Left Propagandist Media Outlets, and the Communist Democrat Leadership. Do your own research, at least as much as Big Tech and Social Media allow. You do know that the truth is being suppressed and you are not getting the truth. Always question what you hear, see, and read. Then make your own decision on what is correct. Let each individual State handle their own affairs and keep the Federal Gov’t out it all. Just some thoughts.

      1. Are you also questioning what you hear, see, and read? Do you read multiple points of view with an open mind?

        Here are some questions to consider:

        How does reducing the days and times people can vote affect the number of people who vote? How does having voting day on a Tuesday and restricting absentee and early voting affect people who have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet and don’t get paid time off? Do these people actually have the same access to the ballot box as a person with a 9-5 job with benefits who doesn’t have to choose between income and voting?

        Voter suppression does not mean voting is impossible, it just means that it is harder for some people than others. The more hurdles you put in the way of something, the fewer people do that thing.

      2. Dear Jim, you must wake up, quit drinking the Q-laid, take you head out of your back-end and truly understand clearly what’s really happening in this country. You don’t have a clue. Oh, and bring a full case of bottled waters to share with the elderly, and perhaps others, waiting in the coming contrived long line to vote. Maybe then you just might find some favor from Jesus. Or maybe you’ll be dragged off to jail.

        1. wow, pipili…what a thoughtfu and well-researched rebuttal…so full of facts and examples! Keep up that good work!

      3. Agreed! We use ID for EVERYTHING. I also think just like Jury Duty, we should begin Audit assignments and every state should have randomized audits for elections so we can trust these results.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *