Special To the Vanguard
On Thursday July 8th, at a rally organized by Indivisible Yolo and Sister District CA3, over a hundred people gathered near the downtown Davis office of Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA3) to rally in support of the For the People Act, Senate Bill 1 (S.1). The bill passed the House in March (H.R.1), was filibustered by the Republican minority and will hopefully be taken up again this summer in the Senate.
S1 seeks to protect and expand voting rights, change campaign finance laws in order to reduce the influence of money in elections, address partisan gerrymandering and create ethics rules for federal officeholders. Indivisible believes that this summer is a make-it-or-break it moment for this bill to pass and for the very survival of US democracy. Supporters are urging Congress to pass the bill to counter what they see as voter suppression efforts taking place all over the country. Fair voting laws and eliminating dark money are supported by a majority of people across the political spectrum.
Along with Congressman Garamendi, a cosponsor of H.R.1, (see Vanguard 7/9), other speakers included Kelly Wilkerson, local organizer for Sister District CA-3; Kolieka Seigle, Northern California President of the National Organization of Women (NOW); Komal Hak, Davis League of Women Voters; Jennifer Roberts, Indivisible Colusa County; and Megan and Steve Murphy, organizers from Indivisible Yolo.
The rally began by organizers celebrating the high turnout in spite of the fact that it was a very hot day. Kelly Wilkerson described how engaged volunteers with Sister District work year round to get out the vote and support progressive candidates near and far. And how she grew up in conservative areas and learned that the American system of government was superior because it was a transparent process that we can trust, where every American has equal freedom to vote. According to Steve Murphy the very infrastructure of democracy is under attack as state legislatures around the country ignore the highest voter turnout in recent history and enact laws to make it harder to vote; therefore the Senate must move past the filibuster in June and take up, debate and pass S1 this summer while they still can. Kolieka Seigle pointed out that the filibuster has been used to maintain and uplift white supremacy, stop civil rights legislation including blocking anti-lynching legislation numerous times; is responsible for preventing the Dream Act from passing in 2010, and as President Barack Obama has said, it makes the country ungovernable in so many ways.
Komal Hak of the Davis League of Women Voters, a strong, non-partisan organization that has championed voting rights for over 100 years, explained that she is inspired by the clear support of S.1 expressed by Virginia Kase the CEO of the National League who testified at the Senate rules committee back in March saying, “S1- the For the People Act, is the transformational democracy reform package that makes elections fairer and restores power to the hands of the American people. This is pro-voter, anti-corruption legislation. The American people cannot wait for our democracy to fix itself.” Ms. Hak added that, “ it is time for the Senate to stand with the League’s mission of empowering voters and defending democracy. S1 must come to a full Senate vote and pass now. I am proud to be here today calling for our representatives to be firm in their commitment to support this bill.”
The final speaker of the day was Jennifer Roberts from Indivisible Colusa County holding a sign that read: “Senator Feinstein, Do the Right Thing, Pass S1.” She welcomed citizen activists from nearby rural areas like Arbuckle, Colusa, and Marysville, and urged everyone to call our California senators because they were elected by us and they are responsible to us. Our California Senators have the power to champion S1 with their more reticent colleagues and work to persuade them to vote for it. Although Senator Padillia has been clear and strong about S1 and the need to change the filibuster, Senator Feinstein has not. California voters should call on her to raise a firm and decisive voice in favor of this legislation. Ms. Roberts reminded the crowd that calling Senators in other states is actually counterproductive and that as Californians our job is to call our own Senators everyday and press them to prioritize this bill. Anyone interested in making calls and writing letters to the editor can find everything they need at the Indivisible Yolo “Deadline for Democracy” toolkit at https://linktr.ee/dothework2020.