The Time is Now for Voting Rights Restoration!
We believe that the time is now to restore voting rights to everyone in the community – for our democracy and for racial justice. However some people might not get the urgency in the context of the pandemic and all the other concerns of 2021. So why should we join together around this issue now?
DEMOCRACY CANNOT WAIT
As we’ve seen in the last election season, the power of the vote is fundamental and needs to be protected now. Every time a year goes by with the current policy, upwards of 20,000 of our neighbors miss out on yet another vote that they cannot get back. Our democracy is the foundation of a just and representative government, so anything that suppresses voters’ rights should be a top priority issue.
At times of crisis, we should prioritize making our democracy work better, not let it slide down the list. We believe that we can only overcome the unprecedented challenges we face with a functioning, inclusive democracy.
RACIAL JUSTICE CANNOT WAIT
There is already a lot of urgency around bills to do with criminal legal reform and police accountability this year, as we have seen how racial biases in these systems continue to harm Black and Indigenous communities. If we are to reform our criminal legal system and work for racial justice, our first step is to make sure that the people who are most impacted are not locked out of the decision-making process.
AN EQUITABLE RECOVERY CANNOT WAIT
The people who have been hurt the most by the pandemic and the economic struggles this year are the same people who are most likely to lose voting rights because of contact with the criminal justice system. If our state is going to ensure a just recovery from the pandemic, we must make sure that our Black/African-American, Indigenous, and low-income neighbors have a say in the decisions that will affect their livelihoods during this crisis (and who will have power over those decisions).
UNITY CANNOT WAIT
With the recent insurrection and following turmoil, people are looking for a sign of unity in our government. HB 1078 is a bipartisan-sponsored bill that demonstrates how people from all political parties and backgrounds have come together around our shared values of democracy, restorative justice, racial equity, and public safety.
Just as it would send a very powerful and much-needed positive message to pass this bill, it also sends a powerful negative message that it continues to languish. Washington has prioritized democracy reform for years, and has really become a leader nationally. But it says something that with each round of reform, the state keeps leaving one group of people behind. A real democracy is inclusive.