Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) urged his fellow lawmakers to pass legislation aimed at expanding voting access in his first speech on the Senate floor Wednesday.
During his speech, the Georgia senator denounced what he called “voter suppression bills” moving throughout Georgia, Wisconsin, Texas, and other Republican states. The bills seek an end to no-excuse absentee voting, automatic voter registration, limit early voting on weekends, and requiring more identification to vote.
As efforts to rollback critical voting rights and protections are growing in Georgia—and nationwide—I’m speaking on the actions we can take in Congress to protect the foundation of our democracy & ensure every single voice is heard. #TheVoteIsSacred https://t.co/qzTnJxuyIW
— Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (@SenatorWarnock) March 17, 2021
“Ours is a land where possibility is born of Democracy,” Warnock said in his 20-minute speech. “A vote, a voice, a chance to help determine the direction of the country and one’s own destiny within it. That’s why this past November and January my mom and other citizens of Georgia grabbed hold of that possibility and turned out in record numbers. Five million in November and 4.1 million in January.”
Since President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, Republican-led states have filed more than 100 bills restricting voting, changing campaign financing, and making it harder for state residents to vote.
Warnock is one of 222 co-sponsors of the For The People Act, a sweeping election reform bill, and urged Congress to pass the bill. The bill easily passed in the House but has little chance to pass the Senate. Under current rules, at least 10 Republicans will have to vote in favor of the bill.
Last year, former President Donald Trump said Republicans would never be elected again if voting access is expanded, admitting the GOP’s motive in their bills.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he will lean on Warnock to help make the case for the bills passing.
“He knows what voter suppression is like in Georgia; he knows what they’re doing now,” Schumer said, referring to a number of voting restrictions now being considered in the state Legislature. “I think he’s going to be a very persuasive voice for Democrats and Republicans to pass S. 1.”
Warnock knows how hard the fight for voting rights was for Black Americans. Warnock is a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The same church Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. co-pastored and where the late John Lewis was a parishioner.