Squad Member Pushes Controversial Policy
On Wednesday, Democratic Representative Ayanna Pressley and Senator Peter Welch introduced the Inclusive Democracy Act, a bill that aims to restore the voting rights of individuals with felony convictions. In a press conference, Pressley, a member of the “Squad,” called for allowing “incarcerated citizens” to vote in federal elections while also expressing her support for lowering the federal voting age to 16.
According to a study by the Sentencing Project, an estimated 4.6 million people were unable to vote in the 2020 election due to a felony conviction. The same study found that people of color are disproportionately affected by felony disenfranchisement. Pressley acknowledged this issue and called for bold, progressive action to ensure equal access to the ballot box for all citizens.
In her speech, Pressley emphasized the need to combat voter suppression, referring to the insurrection at the Capitol in January as an example of the current state of democracy in the United States. She also spoke of her previous efforts to expand voting rights, such as advocating for bilingual ballots and expanding early voting in local elections.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley: “Expand access to the ballot box, Including for incarcerated citizens”
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) December 6, 2023
The proposed legislation would require incarcerated individuals to be educated on their voting rights and provide resources for voter registration. It also aims to establish systems for incarcerated people to vote by mail. However, it would not change states’ ability to expand or restrict voting rights for state and local elections.
The bill faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled House. However, Pressley remains determined to fight for voting rights for all citizens, regardless of their criminal record.
Pressley also highlighted the need for individuals as young as 16 to have the right to vote. She referenced her previous support for lowering the federal voting age and urged the Department of Justice to protect voting rights and fight against voter suppression.
This legislation comes at a time when voter suppression efforts have been on the rise, with many Republican-led states introducing restrictive voting laws. According to voting rights activists, these laws disproportionately affect marginalized communities and can contribute to a lack of representation and unequal access to the political process.
@USSupremeCourt @SpeakerJohnson @SenateGOP @HouseGOP
🇺🇸 THIS IS MADNESS, AND ABSOLUTELY NOT IN OUR BEST INTERESTS. ALLOWING 16YO TO VOTE? PERMITTING PRISON INMATES TO VOTE? INMATES ARE BEING PUNISHED!!! SHE’S OUT OF LINE! THIS HASN’T ANYTHING TO DO WITH WHAT SHE’S SAYING! https://t.co/pU4nEyrMjM
— Kathy ☕️ 🥂 🥀 🎣🎙🗒🎨🎶 (@kathywokeck) December 7, 2023
The Inclusive Democracy Act is a reflection of the urgent need to address the issue of felony disenfranchisement and expand voting rights for all citizens. Pressley and Welch believe this bill will provide a path for formerly incarcerated individuals to fully participate in our democracy and have their voices heard.
With Democrats now in control of the White House and Congress, this bill may have a better chance of passing than in previous years. However, it will still face opposition from Republicans who view it as an attempt to grant voting rights to individuals who have broken the law.
The fight for inclusive democracy continues, and with the introduction of the Inclusive Democracy Act, Pressley and Welch are taking a bold step towards achieving it. As the debate over voting rights continues, the voices of marginalized communities must be heard, and this bill may be a crucial step in that direction.