Protect the Right to Vote, New Jersey, and Do Something for America

Speaking at a town hall in her district, veteran state Senator Shirley Turner affirmed her support for Governor Phil Murphy, in part based on his support for a millionaire’s tax.

We take for granted our precious right to vote in this country, an attitude that epitomizes our disconnect from American representative government, that most vital and civilized form of social and political expression in the history of humankind.

Let it not be said that in this moment, we shrank from the task of building on the immense energy and justice of our democratic republic. Let it be said, rather, that we brought our own “full measure of devotion,” to quote our great president, to the maintenance and fortification of our democratic republican franchise.

That is why we wholeheartedly back legislation championed by veteran state Senator Shirley Turner (D-15), primary sponsor of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New Jersey, as that committed first step in the march to securing a guaranteed right to vote for every eligible New Jerseyan and every American.

Revitalizing the voting process here on a legislative model already adopted by New York furthers the cause of empowering voters in other states, especially battlegrounds, in this critical presidential election year – and every critical election going forward, as constitutionally scheduled.

Senator Turner intends to reintroduce the bill on Thursday, at the next quorum call.

“I encountered some resistance to change when I first introduced it in 2022,” Turner told InsiderNJ.  “Everybody’s talking about democracy on the ballot, but if you can’t vote, you don’t have a voice. We claim to have these rights, but we need to provide safeguards otherwise it makes no sense to claim a right to vote. We need to pass this bill and show the way to these other states, particularly those states considered swing states. I am hopeful they will take our lead and provide greater access opportunities so that every citizen can enjoy the democratic process.

“History tells us.” Turner added, “that voting should not be the right of a privileged few, particularly in the south where they made it more difficult for blacks to vote. The late great John Lewis risked his life for the vote, and now we need to make some good trouble, as he did.”

The basic skeleton of A4554/S2997:

  • Launches a “preclearance” program that puts the burden on local governments with records of discrimination to prove that certain voting changes won’t harm voters of color before they can go into effect.
  • Provides new legal tools to fight discriminatory voting rules in court.
  • Expands language assistance for voters with limited English proficiency.
  • Creates strong protections against voter intimidation, deception, or obstruction.
  • Instructs state judges to interpret election laws in a pro-voter way whenever possible.

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35) sponsors the Assembly version of the bill behind Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-15).

“The bottom line is it makes the process more open and fairer,” Wimberly told InsiderNJ.

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly says he will support a millionaire's tax if it is posted for a vote, but he doesn't see enough support in the caucus for such a bill to pass.
Assemblyman Wimberly.

 

The veteran assemblyman from Paterson pointed to former President Donald J. Trump encouraging a mob to subvert his own vice-president’s constitutional duty to ratify the 2020 presidential election results. Trump faces felony charges in connection with his infamous actions on that day – Jan. 6th, 2021, in addition to other charges connected to his alleged attempt to unlawfully change the outcome of the Georgia election in his favor.

“The last thing you want to infringe on is voter rights, especially when you’re dealing with dictatorship,” said Wimberly. “Especially when you’re looking at someone who led an insurrection, whose numbers are through the roof.”

Wimberly said in addition to supporting the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New Jersey, that he backs a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing every New Jerseyan’s right to vote. Also, he supports a federal constitutional amendment guaranteeing the same.

We agree.

Lewis with Pascrell
John Lewis with Bill Pascrell.

 

“Unfortunately, the current SCOTUS numbers don’t work in our favor [in the case of an inevitable legal challenge], and that again shows how important it is that people vote, and that they have access to voting,” Wimberly said.

Like Turner, the assemblyman said he intends to make this bill a priority, in hopes not just of securing deeper Garden State protections, but in order to puncture the cocoons of complacency in other states – and nationwide. Despite the wars fought, bodies piled, blood shed, court cases waged, and protections of the 15th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Jim Crow history-encumbered South in particular, and those stepchildren of every region only too eager to resist justice, continue to enforce bureaucratic restrictions to voting and erode vital protections at the heart of our nation’s history.

Let’s counteract that influence with our best appeal to America, and the reinforcement of our voices here to every American seeking the sacred right to vote. When he thinks about it, Wimberly said, “I picture John Lewis walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with blood on his head. Every voter should look at that as motivation.”

Amen.

Think about John R. Lewis and George Washington, who peacefully transferred power rather than arrogantly persisting in the habits of European despots. Let’s get this done, New Jersey, and do something for our country, which gave us the right to vote, which we all too cavalierly give away to those only too please to indulge despotism, who joke about being dictator for a day.

John Lewis on the Edmunc Pettus Bridge
John Lewis on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Should the U.S. Constitution contain an amendment GUARANTEEING every American the right to vote?

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2 responses to “Protect the Right to Vote, New Jersey, and Do Something for America”

  1. Interesting what kind of evidence will not be considered as violations are identified. Why would you not want to have such facts in the process?

    (5) evidence concerning the intent on the part of the voters, elected officials, or the political subdivision to discriminate against a protected class shall be not required;
    (6) evidence that voting patterns and election outcomes could be explained by factors other than racially polarized voting, including, but not limited to, partisanship, shall not be considered;
    (7) evidence that sub-groups within a protected class have different voting patterns shall not be considered;

    No wonder this died in committee in the last legislative session. Here’s to a repeat performance in 2024.

  2. Democrats disguise voter fraud as “voting rights,” and its laughable to anyone who pays attention.

    Lets be like Europe. Voter ID and paper ballots only. Democrats would never because the cant stuff the ballot box that way. How can that liberal mom fill out all of her kids mail in ballots (illegal, voter fraud) if ID must be presented? “You must not want black people to vote bigot”

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