In an attempt to fight voter suppression and prevent the subversion of elections, the Democrats drafted and released a bill called the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. This bill was the final product, created by merging the Freedom to Vote Act drafted by the Senate and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, passed in the House of Representatives. However, after just a day of debate, the new Voting Rights Bill was blocked by the Senate. Despite the convincing case that Senate Democrats made to combat the rise of voting restrictions across the United States, these Senators were not able to convince Republican opposition, and a few fellow Democrats, to change the rules of the filibuster required to pass the Bill.
Throughout the entire process, Senate Democrats always considered the possibility of defeat, but decided ultimately to bring it to the floor to highlight the crisis they saw unfolding in American voter rights. Even though many considered this first iteration of the bill to be a failure, there were small successes that came from the event. For example, Senate Democrats were able to bring the Senate to debate the bill for the first time, which created opportunity for a plethora of valid, evidence-based arguments to be made on both sides of the aisle. The arguments put forth clearly depicted the politicized struggle of civil rights, racism, and the validity of elections that still exists today.
This new bill had many additions to prevent voter suppression and the undermining of future elections in the United States. The bill contained base standards to ensure fair elections and protect the right to vote by mail, both of which became central points of controversy in the 2020 election process. The new bill also contained provisions to combat the targeting of racial minorities through unjust suppression laws and partisan gerrymandering. This would have ensured that voters had the true opportunity to choose their politicians, instead of the other way around.
While in the short term, the new Voting Rights Bill’s end may seem like a failure for the Democrats, the discourse, conversations, and conclusions it spurred have the potential to create a resurgence of the protection of voting rights and return to the Senate debate floor with added political momentum.