From Del. Lamont Bagby, Chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus
Virginians should be proud of our state’s leadership on the most pressing issues facing our democracy today. Some of the most expansive and historic voting reforms have come out of Richmond in just the past year alone, culminating in the recent passage of the Voting Rights Act of Virginia. For a state with a dark history of racism and voter suppression, these reforms were a long time coming.
But not all states enjoy similar leadership and reforms today. And our electoral process is still far from perfect. As state legislatures across the country seek to restrict ballot access, and corporate donors ready their next round of egregious secret spending ahead of upcoming elections, bold action is needed at the federal level.
Fortunately, there is a significant and timely opportunity before the US Senate to act on these issues. The For the People Act, Senate Bill 1, is currently under consideration. This comprehensive and historic package of election and campaign finance reforms not only extends many of the protections recently enacted in Virginia to the rest of the country but deploys much-needed federal standards and guardrails surrounding our campaign finance system.
Of course, with a bill of this magnitude, debate has been tainted with partisan rhetoric, and doubts about its likelihood of passage abound. The next big moment for the For the People Act comes as the Senate Rules Committee again takes it up for public consideration on May 11th – and we sure are glad that our own Senator Mark Warner serves on the Rules Committee and will be part of leading this effort.
As the Civil Rights leader and voting rights champion, the late Rep. John Lewis reminded us, the “right to vote is precious, almost sacred,” and it is the most powerful tool we have to create a more perfect union.
Member, 74th District
Virginia House of Delegates
Chair, Virginia Legislative Black Caucus