Montgomery County Young Democrats Newsletter: A Look Back at 2022

2022 was a year of new challenges and even newer solutions. As the pandemic receded, the Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) reassessed and recalculated our efforts to support our community, encourage people to get involved in politics, and elect Democrats up and down the ballot. We also stepped up our advocacy and campaigning to meet the needs of our neighbors. 

If you are interested, we urge you to become an MCYD member – annual dues are only $10 and you can join here

Financial Support for Various Groups: 

Thanks to your generous support, the Montgomery County Young Democrats began 2022 with $13,199.89 in our bank account. With that we funded a diverse set of projects and organizations, including: 

  • A $125 sponsorship for the 2022 Women’s Legislative Briefing
  • A $500 donation to a Wider Circle, a Silver Spring nonprofit that helps people living in poverty 
  • A $500 donation to the Maryland Democratic Party, encouraging them to get young people involved in politics 
  • A $500 donation to Compostology – an organization founded by two Montgomery County high school students that reduces food waste and greenhouse gas emissions
  • A $600 donation to Brook Codes – an organization dedicated to providing accessibility to women and people of color who are otherwise overlooked in the tech industry 
  • A $300 donation for the Silver Spring Starbucks workers strike fund

MCYD has a grant program where we give out grants of $250, $500, or other amounts to support various projects aimed at helping communities, getting young people more engaged and active in political life, and assisting the less fortunate. We encourage applications, and for those interested in applying for an MCYD grant, the grant application form is here). 

First Quarter of 2022

In January 2022, we began the year by saying goodbye to our long-standing MCYD member and Treasurer Stephen Schiavone, who will be missed. In his place, we elected Saif Shamim (of Gaithersburg) as our new Treasurer, who has brought valuable experience working for the Maryland General Assembly and on a Congressional campaign in Maryland. 

In February 2022 we organized our annual Legislative Advocacy Day, urging Maryland Delegates and Senators to pass various bills we supported. Although they were virtual, we were able to have insightful meetings with legislators, and shared the legislative priorities that MCYD set out to advocate for this year including:

  • HB 8 – Paid family and medical Leave
  • HB 751 – Allowing graduate students at the University of Maryland to unionize 
  • SB 73 – Special elections to fill legislative vacancies 
  • SB 387 – Banning untraceable ghost guns-and 
  • HB 659 – Jaelynn’s Law – Child access prevention 
  • Cannabis legalization
  • Environmental protection and reducing climate change 
  • And many other priorities such as standards for teaching African-American history in schools and measures to reduce student loan debt 

In March, we began to meet candidates in the race for Maryland’s next Governor, including our new Lt. Governor-elect Aruna Miller. During our March meeting, we talked about the housing crisis with former MCYD President and renters’ rights advocate Will Roberts and Sarah Reddinger, Vice President of Community Development for Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland. 

Second Quarter of 2022

As the Maryland legislative session wrapped up, we received a brief summary of the legislative session. At our April meeting, we spoke with Maryland gubernatorial candidate John King about his run for office and his policy proposals. 

During the 2022 Democratic primary, we were happy to see members of our own team step up to take on positions in campaigns or run their own elections! MCYD members who ran for office included: 

  • MCYD Vice President Teresa Woorman who ran for the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC), and served as Campaign Manager for Marc Elrich
  • MCYD Communications Director Margie Delao who ran for MCDCC
  • MCYD Membership Director Keyna Anyiam who ran for MCDCC, and served as Senior Advisor with the Ashwani Jain for MD Governor campaign
  • MCYD Member Joe Vogel who won his race for Delegate in District 17! 

In May the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, depriving millions of access to safe and legal abortions. Understanding the harm this is causing to families and pregnant women and men, MCYD focused our May meeting on reproductive rights and the state of healthcare and patient advocacy (especially for minority groups and undocumented immigrants). Later in May, we held our 1st Annual Alumni Ice Cream Social at a local park in the streets of Silver Spring. We were excited to hear from our past members who have gone on to become elected officials, candidates, policy analysts, and civil rights champions since leaving MCYD. 

In an effort to keep voters informed, MCYD hosted a County Council at Large Candidate Forum in early June. Attendees answered questions about housing, the policing of recreational cannabis, affordability of higher education, public safety, abortion rights, and many other issues. 

Third Quarter of 2022

Once the 2022 Democratic primaries concluded in July, we celebrated by having a MCYD Happy Hour and by working to ensure that Democrats united behind the victorious candidates throughout the county and state. We were also immensely pleased by President Joe Biden’s announcement of $10,000 in student debt cancellation, and circulated information to our communities so people could take advantage of this opportunity. 

In September MCYD held our 17th Annual Paint the County Blue fundraiser, generously hosted by Councilmember Gabe Albornoz. The event was a success as we raised over $6,000! We are so thankful for the continued support of our community and donors. We will use the money to keep funding our advocacy efforts and initiatives to engage and retain young Democratic voters, as well as supporting non-partisan groups who work to help Montgomery County be a better place for its residents. 

Final Months of 2022

In October we focused on Get out the Vote efforts! MCYD members went all over Maryland to stomp the pavements and knock on doors in support of the Maryland Democratic party. Members traveled to Frederick, Ellicott City, Glen Burnie, and Lexington Park. Along with phonebanking, our club was busy ensuring that MD voted #AllBlueIn22!

On Election Day, we were not disappointed. We witnessed Maryland make history and  elected our first Black Governor in Wes Moore and our first Asian Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller. MCYD looks forward to working with the Moore-Miller administration over the next four years. Our November meeting focused on mental health assistance, the need for additional funding and resources, and what young people should know about this topic. 

Finally, in December we held our end of the year Holiday Party, graciously hosted by Eden Durbin in Kensington. MCYD members relaxed, caught up with one another, and celebrated an excellent year of education, organizing, and political advocacy. 

We look forward to building on our successes and accomplishing even more this year!

Testimony of Montgomery County Young Democrats to Montgomery County Delegation Priorities Hearing-November 15th, 2022

Good evening members of the Delegation: 

Thank you for receiving our testimony. My name is Michael DeLong and I am the President of the Montgomery County Young Democrats, an organization of young Democrats ages 14-34 who work to make Montgomery County and Maryland better places to live, and get young people more involved in politics. Since Maryland currently has a $2 billion budget surplus and incoming Governor Wes Moore has proposed an impressive agenda, we urge the Legislature to seize this moment and enact reforms that will truly leave no one behind.

First, we strongly support the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and urge you to fully fund early childhood and public school education over the next decade, which will result in incredible benefits for children, families, and society as a whole. We also urge the Delegation to work on making childcare more affordable by expanding the early childhood workforce and scholarship funds, and to prepare students for good-paying jobs by expanding access to programs, apprenticeships, and job training. Students with excessive student loan debt should also receive help–the student loan debt relief tax credit program should be expanded, and they should get free access to professional debt counseling. 

Maryland voters also approved a constitutional amendment legalizing cannabis starting next summer, and so legislators should write rules to set up the recreational cannabis marketplace. The Hogan administration has undermined the state government and workforce; rebuilding departments and attracting talented people should be a top priority. The Legislature should encourage this revitalization, and also promote other reforms, including allowing mail-in ballots to be counted before Election Day. 

Housing costs have become an increasingly big problem for Marylanders. This issue is large and has many aspects, and too many people are struggling to afford their rent or mortgages, or facing evictions. We strongly support Delegate Wilkins’s Stable Homes Act to give renters additional rights and protect them against unjust evictions, as well as the construction of more housing in order to lower prices. And people facing eviction should have the right to good legal representation. If people can’t afford to live in Maryland, all our improvements will be of little help. 

Transportation is another area where the Legislature can take action to improve quality of life, and to help reduce climate change and protect the environment. We ask the Legislature to dedicate additional resources to improving our bus system, complete the Purple Line and help the businesses around it, and improve the contracting process to stop cost overruns and delays; the Legislature should also revive the Red Line transit project that was canceled by Hogan.

Wes Moore and Aruna Miller have also promised to boost the economy for all Marylanders, and that includes supporting unions, higher wages, and better working conditions. The $15 per hour minimum wage was a step in the right direction but it is not enough. The Legislature’s top priorities should include: accelerated implementation of the $15 per hour minimum wage, linking this wage to inflation so it automatically goes up, and making it easier for Marylanders to join unions and engage in collective bargaining. 

Finally, we strongly urge the Legislature to support Wes Moore’s proposal for a statewide service year program, allowing all Maryland high school graduates to serve for a year in a public service role. In return, they would receive job training, mentorship, and compensatory tuition at Maryland public colleges and universities. One of our proudest initiatives is when we encourage young people to help their communities in some way or start projects to assist those around them. This can range from funding projects to reduce food waste, which were started by high schoolers, getting involved in local government, or coming up with new ideas to reduce discrimination. The service year program is an excellent idea that has potential to inspire a lot of young people, and the Legislature should do its part to get it off the ground.

Thank you very much. Please contact us at if you have any questions. 

Montgomery County Young Democrats August 2022 Meeting Minutes-Climate Change and the County

The Montgomery County Young Democrats meeting began at 7 PM at White Oak Library. We began by reviewing our finances-we currently had $9,773.84 in our bank account and the last big expenditure was $243.67 at the happy hour after the rally for Wes Moore for Governor.

We also urged everyone to attend our Paint the County Blue fundraiser/mixer from 1-4 PM on Saturday, September 17th. It will be hosted by Councilmember Gabe Albornoz at his house; the address is 9810 Summit Ave, Kensington MD 20895.

MCYD then heard presentations on climate change, its impact on Montgomery County, and what we can do to stop it.

Wandra Ashley-Williams from Climate XChange spoke first. She emphasized that climate change is causing more extreme weather conditions and disasters, including heat. Polluters need to pay their fair share for the harm they have caused. Last session the Maryland Legislature passed the Climate Solutions Now Act, which sets an aggressive carbon reduction program, but more action is needed.

Wandra urged MCYD to support to support the Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act, which would charge oil companies a fee for the pollution they cause. The bill would raise $1 billion, with half of that money going to infrastructure and 40% going to help the communities most impacted by climate change. It would have a no passthrough provision, so companies can’t pass costs on to consumers. Climate XChange is encouraging everyone to make this bill a priority and join the Maryland Coalition in support of it, currently consisting of 66 organizations.

Luca Grifo-Han from the Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights spoke next. Their goal is to get an amendment guaranteeing the right of everyone to a clean environment in the Maryland Constitution. This amendment would affect all bills and have a far-reaching impact; moreover there is precedent since other states have environmental amendments. New York recently approved an amendment by 70%.

Amendments to the Maryland Constitution need to be pass both legislative houses by a three fifths majority and then be ratified by the voters. Last session the environmental amendment did not make it out of committee, partly due to opposition from Delegate Kumar Barve, but it will be brought back.

Adriana Hochberg from the Montgomery County Council was the final speaker. She pointed out that climate change has increased Montgomery County temperatures by 2 degrees Fahrenheit, resulted in more heats alerts, storms, and flooding (especially flash floods). The County intends to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, improve energy performance standards, and develop a countrywide comprehensive flooding plan. People in garden-level apartments are especially vulnerable.

The County has a climate action plan that you can read, and a bunch of summer interns and workers who are putting together projects. The Inflation Reduction Act, which just passed Congress, includes $369 billion for combatting climate change.

MCYD then had a lively discussion and asked numerous questions, and then adjourned until next month.

Montgomery County Young Democrats Condemn the Supreme Court’s Overturning of Roe v. Wade

The Montgomery County Young Democrats strongly condemn the just decided Dobbs v. Jackson decision, which overturns Roe v. Wade and jeopardizes the right to have an abortion. For fifty years this decision secured the constitutional right to privacy and abortion in the United States, and we are appalled that women and pregnant people in 26 states will soon likely have little or no access to reproductive care. 

Six right-wing justices, disregarding precedent, history, and basic women’s rights, have decided to strip this right away. 

​​Our state legislatures are and will continue to be the last line of defense in the battle for protecting reproductive health, reproductive rights, and women’s rights. Thankfully in Maryland we have a legislature that is committed to these goals. 

MCYD stands firm in our commitment to protect these rights for all Marylanders. 

We will continue to press for legislation that prohibits the criminalization of women, pregnant persons, and those who support them in accessing care. We also urge Governor Larry Hogan to immediately release the $3.5 million in funds for an abortion provider training program that he is withholding. 

Finally, this decision jeopardizes other fundamental privacy rights including access to contraception, marriage equality, and the freedom to be openly gay. Justice Clarence Thomas has already written that he wants to overturn the rulings safeguarding these rights. As a result, MCYD believes we should expand the Supreme Court to limit the damage that these corrupt justices can cause. 

We urge everyone to get involved in fighting for abortion rights, and to march, donate, organize, and run for office. A list of organizations to donate to can be found here.

Thank You for MoCo Young Democrats Alumni Day/Ice Cream Social

Last Saturday, May 21st, the Montgomery County Young Democrats held an Alumni Day/Ice Cream Social in Acorn Park in downtown Silver Spring. We heard from Delegates Gabriel Acevero, Marc Korman, Emily Shetty, and Jheanelle Wilkins, Gaithersburg Councilmember Laurie-Anne Sayles, and Samir Paul about getting involved in politics.

Some of the advice: be able to do smaller tasks and deliver on them. Eventually you will take on bigger and bigger issues. Be intentional about one thing and bring your friends. And keep in touch with your state legislators–they are very accessible and eager to hear from you.

A big thank you to everyone who came, and we hope to do more events like this in the future.

Why Are Young People Not Voting? By Elizabeth Mehler

The biggest factors attributed to the low voter turnout among voters aged 18-29 are: lack of habit formation, obstacles to voting and/or registering, and the general discouragement around politics. 

Younger voters have simply had less opportunity to vote, and therefore less time to build the habit. Also people are influenced by external factors such as what they see their peers doing. Older people are more likely to observe friends, family members, and peers voting throughout many elections while young people are less likely to have that influence encouraging them to vote. 

Younger people are more likely to have jobs and financial situations that make it harder to take time off work to vote. It can also be more difficult for young people living in new and/or temporary places to learn the process of voting, registering, finding their polling place, and educating themselves on the local and national candidates. Younger people are less likely to have printers or other necessities to vote, or they may not know where to look for information on the electoral system

Young voters are historically not the most important demographic, due to their lower turnout, and therefore candidates’ campaigns are less focused on them and their concerns. Many young people feel their leaders don’t care about their input and feel generally discouraged around politics. This creates a feedback loop and  reinforces the idea that young people’s votes are unimportant and their input is not valued. 

Voter Turnout in Montgomery County

In the 2020 presidential election 537,935 people voted in Montgomery County. According to the Maryland State Board of Education, as of October 17, 2020 there were 673,198 registered voters. The general election turnout for Montgomery County voters was 79% for the 2020 elections. More than 127,700 voted during the early-voting period and the county received about 331,000 mail-in ballots.

How to Increase Youth Voter Turnout?

Educate Teenagers and Young Adults: Voting is a civic practice that needs to be learned. New voters should be actively taught how to register to vote, how to find a polling place, and  how to fill out and cast a ballot. One of the most beneficial ways to improve youth voter turnout is educating young people on the logistics of voting. 

Educating young people on voting needs to start within schools. Schools should take the time to teach students the process of voting, how to fill out a ballot, how to find where to vote and getting students registered (or pre registered) to vote, which can have a tremendous impact on youth voter turnout within their community. Research from a CIRCLE youth survey found that “youth who reported having been either encouraged to vote or taught how to register to vote in high school are more likely to vote and participate in other civic activities and are more knowledgeable about voting processes.” The survey also found that “students who had not received encouragement to vote from teachers in high school were more than twice as likely to agree with the statement ‘Voting is a waste of time’ as those who had been encouraged: 26% vs. 12%.” Increasing youth voter turnout must start within schools, teaching kids the importance of voting at formative ages. It is very worthwhile to work with schools to improve the information taught about voting and ensure kids are leaving school knowledgeable about the voting process.   

Automatic Voter Registration: Automatic voter registration (AVR) is the idea that when citizens reach the voting age, they are added to the voter rolls without having to register themselves. The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) passed by congress in 1993 created a new way to vote. The NVRA required most states to provide citizens the opportunity to register to vote when applying or renewing a driver’s license at the DMV, and has been implemented in Maryland. 

Since Oregon became the first state in the nation to imple­ment AVR in 2016, the state has seen voter regis­tra­tion rates quadruple at DMV offices. Although the NVRA has a substantial impact on voter registration throughout the country, it still doesn’t reach everyone. Another example: Sweden has a virtually automatic enrollment system–voter registration is automatic and proof of registration is sent to the homes of every eligible Swedish citizen for elections. Data from the Pew Research Center places Sweden as having the second highest voter turnout in the world with a voter turnout of 82.61%. 

Registering to vote is often the biggest obstacle of the voting process in America. Automatic voter registration is proven to have an immense effect on voter turnout and is worth advocating for as youth voter turnout especially would increase. 

Please reach out to us at if you have any questions, or would like to get involved in boosting voter turnout.

Next MoCo Young Democrats Meeting Will Be on Cannabis Legalization-7 PM, Tuesday, February 15th

Our next Montgomery County Young Democrats meeting will be on cannabis legalization at 7 PM, Tuesday, February 15th. We will have a panel of experts to talk about legalizing and taxing cannabis and how to do it properly, ensuring that the community benefits from the taxes, how people convicted of cannabis-related crimes will be impacted, and how to promote racial justice in this area. Register here to attend via Zoom.

Testimony of Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) – Joint House and Senate Montgomery County Delegation Priorities Hearing – November 15, 2021

Good evening members of the Delegation:

Thank you for receiving our testimony. My name is Michael DeLong and I am the President of the Montgomery County Young Democrats, an organization of young Democrats ages 14-34 working to ensure freedom and opportunity for all and get young people involved in politics. These are extraordinary times. During the upcoming legislative session we urge you to champion major reforms and show that government can meaningfully improve Marylanders’ lives. 

MCYD thanks you for your work to combat police brutality earlier this year, but the fight is far from over. Currently Maryland police officers have qualified immunity, which means they are protected from civil lawsuits and can even collect their pensions if they lose their jobs for abuse or misconduct. We urge you to end this get-out-of-jail-free card for abusive officers and build on the historic policing reform that you passed last session. 

Now that the eviction moratorium is over, eviction filings are rising and many more renters are struggling to stay in their homes. Tenants need to be protected from unjust treatment, not just in this county but across the state. Delegate Wilkins’s Stable Homes Act prohibits landlords from evicting tenants with just cause, like breaking their lease, damaging the property, or good faith efforts to reclaim the property for other years. The Legislature should enact it to grant protections to all Maryland renters. 

Paid family leave should be another top priority. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and workers, employers, and the general public benefit when people have paid time off to care for themselves and their family members. Employees should have at least 12 weeks of paid leave; the Time to Care Act has been introduced in the past couple of sessions and it should be passed. Paid family and medical leave means not having to choose between paychecks and families, keeps people in the labor force, and leads to a stronger economy, more workplace equality, and improved family values. Furthermore, the problem of student loan debt is looming over too many young people’s lives, and we urge you to take measures to reduce it.

We cannot remain indifferent to the environment and to the effects of climate change, which are already impacting Maryland–examples include increasing flooding in Annapolis and the erosion of various islands in the Chesapeake. The Legislature should reduce carbon emissions and oppose Hogan’s highway expansion plan, which will result in increased pollution and traffic. Finally, legislators should consider allowing ranked choice voting for Montgomery County elections, if the Council determines it is a good reform. 

Thank you very much for accepting our testimony. Please contact us at if you have any questions. 

Letter from MoCo Young Democrats in Support of Thrive Montgomery 2050 Plan

September 13th, 2021

Montgomery County Council President Tom Hucker


Council Office Building

100 Maryland Avenue, 6th Floor

Rockville, MD 20850

cc Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz, Andrew Friedson, Evan Glass, Will Jawano, Sidney Katz, Nancy Navarro, Craig Rice, Hans Riemer

Dear Council President Hucker,

We Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) write in support of the Thrive Montgomery 2050 plan and its vision for the county, including land use, housing, transportation, parks and open space, and environmental protection. Montgomery County is an excellent place to live but it can and should be improved, and this plan will improve the quality of life for everyone. Below are several aspects of the plan that are especially worthy of your support.

Over the past fifty years Montgomery County has grown tremendously; the 2020 census showed that our county now has over a million people and has grown significantly more urban. The county also has major employment centers, lots of residential neighborhoods, and rural areas. Past and present racial discrimination means that many people still lack opportunities and good services.

Thrive Montgomery seeks to use land more efficiently and anticipates that Montgomery County will become more urban, more diverse, and more interconnected. It recognizes that compact development is valuable and so is diverse use and building types. The plan further promotes better public transportation that focuses on moving people, not just cars. MCYD supports all these objectives.

In order to accommodate Montgomery County’s growing population, promote economic growth, and encourage new businesses, we need more housing and more affordable. Traditionally plans have focused just on single family homes and promoted them as the county’s ideal; single family homes are important, but so are duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, small apartments, and high rise apartments and condominiums. Thrive Montgomery calls for focusing growth in a limited number of locations rather than dispersing it. This has several advantages: 1) it avoids sprawl that is environmentally unfriendly, separates people, and makes them more reliant on cars, 2) encourages a variety of different uses such as retail, housing, and office space, which ensures that people of diverse incomes and backgrounds can live and work closely together, and 3) emphasizes the importance of walking, biking, and public transportation, which reduces pollution and climate change.

Concentrating development in urban areas has the added benefit of preserving agriculture, and even suburbs and rural areas benefit from a mixture of uses and housing types to suit their needs. Improved public transportation will bring additional advantages to Montgomery County, which already has serious traffic problems. Many neighborhoods were constructed just for cars, and it is difficult for residents without them to get around. Low-income residents may also find it difficult to afford cars, which are expensive and require constant maintenance in order to function well. Improved buses, more missing middle housing, denser neighborhoods, and the construction of the Purple Line will make the county a better place to live.

MCYD additionally supports corridor-focused development, which is also included in the plan. Denser buildings and housing should be constructed next to Metro stations, major roads and bus stops, and future Purple Line stations. Following these proposals will reduce traffic congestion and easily connect people across the county and beyond. The Thrive Montgomery plan further states that the county will “amend land use, design, and zoning regulations, including the Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Regulations, to remove regulatory barriers and permit corridor-focused compact development.” MCYD applauds these suggestions and believes that single family zoning, which restricts development to only allow single-family homes, is often unsuited for various neighborhoods and contributes to systemic racism. Allowing development of different buildings will expand opportunity for residents and help reduce discrimination. 

Finally, Thrive Montgomery 2050 commits to sharing the benefits of growth with everyone, no matter their neighborhood, class, or race. Montgomery County is often portrayed as a place where everyone is well off. While there are wealthy areas in our county, such as Bethesda and Chevy Chase, that is far from the truth. Eastern Montgomery County is home to more low-income families and has received significantly less resources and services, and fast growing cities like Gaithersburg and Clarksburg also need more attention and investment. Thrive Montgomery will encourage all these changes.

MCYD strongly supports Thrive Montgomery and its ambitions to improve Montgomery County for all its residents. We ask the County Council to support this plan as well.

Thank you very much, and please contact us at if you have any questions.


The Montgomery County Young Democrats

The Biden Administration’s Push for Voting Rights-By Becky Felker

“If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let the people vote.” These were the words of President Joseph R. Biden on March 26, 2021 in a statement about the attack on the voting rights in Georgia. Since the beginning of his presidential campaign, and now in his first term as President, Biden has come under intense pressure from organizations like the ACLU  (American Civil Liberties Union),  the NAACP, and Common Cause to fight hard to protect voting rights for all Americans. Biden has kept part of this campaign promise by touting S1: For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. 

The official summary of HR/S1 given by Congress is that the For the People Act “addresses voter access, election integrity and security, campaign finance, and ethics for the three branches of government.” More specifically, the bill expands voter registration by making automatic and same-day registration nationally available as well as expanding voter access through vote-by-mail and early voting. The bill requires states to establish independent redistricting commissions to carry out congressional redistricting. This would help to alleviate the partisanship and gerrymandering we see so often today. There is also a focus on election security by creating more support for state elections’ security, cybersecurity, and developing a national strategy to protect U.S. democratic institutions through the establishment of a National Commission to Protect United States Democratic Institutions. Further, the bill addresses campaign finance, including expanding the prohibition on campaign spending by foreign nationals, requiring additional disclosure of campaign-related fundraising and spending, requiring additional disclaimers regarding certain political advertising, and establishing an alternative campaign funding system for certain federal offices. The bill addresses ethics in the form of more extensive reporting of conflict of interests in the federal government, creating codes of conduct for Supreme Court Justices, and prohibiting Members of the House from serving on the board of a for-profit entity. There is also more accountability and transparency required in the Executive Branch–the President, the Vice President, and certain candidates for those offices must disclose 10 years of tax returns. 

The John Lewis Voting Rights Act, named after the late civil rights icon John Lewis, is similar to the For the People Act in many ways, but has more historical roots. This bill, introduced in the 116th Congress, would reinstall an original section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act which helped to make sure that people of color, especially Black Americans, had equal voting rights, as well as access to the polls. The 2013 Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder created a considerable blow to voter equality, especially for minorities. As stated by the Human Rights Campaign:

“Among the invalidated provisions was an enforcement mechanism that prevented states from making changes to voting laws and practices if they have a history of voting discrimination, unless they clear those changes through federal officials. In Shelby, the Supreme Court ruled that the formula for deciding which states and localities have a history of voting discrimination (and were therefore required to pre-approve changes in voting laws and practices) was unconstitutional. This severely weakened the federal government’s oversight of discriminatory voting practices.” 

With this key provision being invalidated, voting rights for people of color are at the most vulnerable yet. Unfortunately, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act has taken a much different path through Congress than the For the People Act. While the Act passed the House in the 116th Congress it failed in the Senate and has yet to be reintroduced into this new, 117th Congress.

Speaking at the memorial for the 100th anniversary since the Tulsa Greenwood Massacre, President Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris would take the lead on protecting voting rights and passing the For the People Act in the Senate. In what will be her first major individual assignment as Vice President,  Kamala Harris’ first job is “going to take a hell of a lot of work” as President Biden put it. Indeed it will. Not only does the John Lewis Voting Rights Act have a grim future, but now the For the People Act does too, with crucial swing vote Senator Joe Manchin announcing he will not vote in support. 

In an Op-Ed to the Charleston Gazette Mail, Manchin explains “voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen.” While in strong support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to be reintroduced, Manchin thinks slim, partisan victories in the Senate begs the question: “Do we really want to live in an America where one party can dictate and demand everything and anything it wants, whenever it wants?” Manchin further states that he is not in support of  his other Democratic colleagues’ attempts at eliminating the filibuster and using Vice President Harris for the tie breaking vote. His reasoning for this was that “just four short years ago, in 2017 when Republicans held control of the White House and Congress, President Donald Trump was publicly urging Senate Republicans to eliminate the filibuster. Then, it was Senate Democrats who were proudly defending the filibuster. Thirty-three Senate Democrats penned a letter to Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warning of the perils of eliminating the filibuster.” 

While the filibuster is another hot button issue, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has stated: “We will vote on voting rights legislation, bold legislation, S. 1, in the last week in June.” Schumer has also said that he is willing to negotiate with Senator Manchin in order to get full democratic support for S1, but that “Speaker Pelosi put out a letter to her colleagues just a couple hours ago that said S. 4 (the John Lewis Voting Rights Act), because of its constitutional difficulties and upcoming court cases will not even be ready. So we’re going to put S. 1 on the floor. As I said, we’re open to changes and modifications as long as it does the job.”

It seems like Democrats’ anxiety over passing some kind of sweeping voting rights package is not baseless; the Brennan Center for Justice reported 361 voter suppression bills being introduced just this year. The last time there was this many voter suppression bills introduced was in 2011, and the Brennan Center thinks this is no coincidence:

“The restrictive laws from 2011 were enacted after the 2010 elections brought a  significant shift in political control over statehouses — and as the country confronted backlash to the election of its first Black president. Today’s attacks on the vote come from similar sources: the racist voter fraud allegations behind the Big Lie and a desire to prevent future elections from achieving the historic turnout seen in 2020.” (Brennan Center for Justice) 

Most proposed bills in state legislatures try to limit voting by mail, make stricter rules for voter ID, and decrease the availability of voter registration options.

With a vote coming up in late June on the For the People Act, groups like the Brennan Center, NAACP,  and Common Cause are confident that the only way to stop these new bills in state houses is to enact S1. Unfortunately it looks like Chuck Schumer, Kamala Harris, and the Democratic Party as a whole- have a long road ahead of them to get there. 


AP Article voting rights: 

Atlantic Article on how S1 is best chance to stop voter suppression: 

NY Times Article on what S1 would do as a bill: 

Washington Post Machin not supporting S1 article:

USA Today on Biden’s two voting laws he wants passed:

Manchin’s Op Ed: