There is “good trouble” afoot in Madison. Local voting rights advocates are planning to hold a “Votercade” demonstration in Downtown Madison in early May, in conjunction with other voting rights demonstrations planned across the country on the same day, to demand that elected officials restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act.
Morgan County groups will demonstrate for the strengthening of democracy and to restore the Voting Rights Act in Madison, in honor of the late Georgia Congressman and Civil Rights legend, John Lewis. Protests all across America are planned for the National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day on Saturday, May 8.
Lewis notoriously fought for expanding voting rights throughout his entire political career and famously said, “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Madison’s event will include Madison Mayor Fred Perriman, the Morgan County Branch of the NAACP, and the Morgan County Democrats. Event organizers stressed that the event is open to anyone supporting the protection and expansion of voting rights.
“Voting rights advocates across the country are coming together across America to demand preservation and expansion of democracy, and ignite public support for restoring the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act. Events are scheduled on May 8 in more than 140 communities for the National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day,” said Jeanne Dufort, one of the organizers for the demonstration in Madison.
“The Morgan County coalition will hold a Votercade – cars, bikes, and walkers will follow a route through Madison,” said Dufort. “Participants are asked to gather at 2:30 p.m. to decorate vehicles, and the Votercade will roll out at 3 p.m. – in conjunction with nationwide events. Everyone who believes in the importance of voting rights is invited to participate.”
While these demonstrations will happen nationwide, Georgia voting rights groups feel particular urgency due to the new elections reform bill signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this year – a piece of omnibus legislation viewed as a hindrance to voting rights among voting rights activists.
Critics of Georgia’s new election reforms claim the new laws are “regressive,” place “undue burdens” on voters, and are designed to specifically thwart voter turnout in densely-populated cities and minority communities, which heavily vote for Democrats. Proponents of the bill argued the new regulations would help prevent election fraud and provide uniformity across the state of Georgia in how elections are conducted.
Republican legislators said the bill would “boost voter confidence” after many Republican voters doubted the veracity of the 2020 Presidential Election when President Joe Biden narrowly defeated Former President Donald Trump. However, during the hearings at the Capitol in Atlanta in February, multiple election officials testified that no widespread voter fraud took place in Georgia during the November 2020 Election.
Voting Rights advocates believe Georgia’s new voting requirements are a form of “payback” from Republican state officials after Georgia turned blue for the first time since the early 1990s. Now, voting rights advocates all over the country are calling for a federal piece of legislation, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, to expand voting rights and equalize voting requirements across the country.
Proponents of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act argue that the legislation would counteract a Supreme Court Decision back in 2013 that eroded protections in the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
“In 2013, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court eroded key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protected voters from racial discrimination and intimidation. This decision led to numerous states passing new anti-voter laws that restrict access to the ballot box and cut the number of polling places in our communities,” said Sylvia Albert, a voting rights activist promoting the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
“These changes have disproportionately restricted the freedom to vote for voters of color, often leading to long lines and less resources to run accessible elections in Black and brown communities. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act is our chance to reverse this trend by restoring the Voting Rights Act and strengthening the provisions in it to protect the freedom to vote for all Americans, particularly voters of color.”
Morgan County groups are eager to participate in the May 8 demonstration.
“We are pleased that Morgan County has the opportunity to be part of a nationwide event,” said Pastor Lonnie Brown, president of the Morgan County NAACP. “Passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act will help restore the protections many generations have fought for.”
Other members of the non-partisan local coalition include Indivisible 10, local pastors, and individuals. For more information about the National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day. visit www.dfadcoalition.org/lewis-day/.
Morgan County’s “votercade” demonstration will take place in downtown Madison, though an exact location has yet to be determined. Participants will meet at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 8, to decorate and then set out on a route in Madison at 3 p.m. to demonstrate.