Letter: Disappointed in our senators

Letter: Disappointed in our senators

Alaska’s senators faced a simple test: Support voting rights in Alaska and other states by allowing debate on the “For the People Act,” or filibuster the bill to enable state-level voter suppression? Tragically, both Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan voted to enable voter suppression and prevented the Senate from even debating the most important voting rights bill before Congress.

Not so long ago, the most important issues Congress faced were about policies — whether on jobs, climate or foreign policy. Today, Congress faces a more fundamental question: Will our democracy survive?

Republican-led states are trying to lock Americans out of the electoral process, crippling our democracy with flagrant voter suppression rules. The House of Representatives responded by passing HR 1, the For the People Act, to protect Americans’ right to vote.

This bill happens to be very consistent with Alaska laws — it protects voting by mail, for example. Opponents of voting rights claim it tramples “states rights” and the decades of Jim Crow voter suppression that opponents of democracy also defended as “states rights.” Let’s be clear: this law would protect your right to vote, and is consistent with Alaska’s state laws. Our senators should support it.

Yet they supported the filibuster, and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s gamble that Republicans can block enough Americans from voting to seize control of the House or Senate in the next elections.

Our senators have a chance to redeem themselves: They can work to get either this bill or Sen. Joe Manchin’s compromise voting rights bill to the Senate floor for a vote. Otherwise, they will be remembered for being on the side of those who sought to tear apart the fabric of our democracy.

— Kevin McGee