February Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein

Voting Rights of Retirees, all Americans in Jeopardy

The numbers don’t lie. The overwhelming majority of Americans trust nontraditional forms of voting, including mail balloting and early, in-person voting.

In 2020, during the pandemic and the highest-turnout election in history, nontraditional forms of voting helped ensure all Americans safe ways to exercise their right to vote.

In fact, 69 percent of those who voted in 2020 cast their ballot by mail or before Election Day.

Among voters age 65 and older, that figure was an astounding 77.7 percent, the highest among all age groups.

However, in 2021, the list of states enacting new restrictions on nontraditional voting grew by at least 19.

This intentional effort to roll back voting rights is a continuation of the unprecedented attacks that civil liberties groups have been fighting since 2013, when the United States Supreme Court gutted key sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Congress has acted before to protect every American’s voting rights, and they can do it again.

In mid-January, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the John R. Lewis Act, which merged the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.

If passed by the U.S. Senate and signed by President Biden, this legislation would:

  • require early voting in all fifty states
  • create a national standard for mail voting
  • give Americans a public holiday to vote
  • establish clear federal redistricting standards to stop gerrymandered districts
  • create automatic voter registrations

Passing laws to ensure everyone can vote seems like common sense. However, Senate filibuster rules dating back to WWI make it easier for a minority of Senators to delay or stop this legislation altogether.

The Senate has modified the filibuster many times before, and it is time they do so again in order to protect every Americans’ right to vote.

Recently, the USW Rapid Response sent out a call to action, encouraging our members and retirees to urge the U.S. Senate to “Sideline the Filibuster and Protect Voting Rights!”

Unfortunately, our efforts to pass this historic voting rights measure failed to pass in the Senate. (See page 7 for more details.)

Thank you to everyone who made a call to their Senator. As we look into the New Year, there will be plenty of opportunities for us to collectively weigh-in on those issues important to retirees. Happy New Year!

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