Senate Filibuster Once Again Prevents Passage of Voting Rights Protections

Statement by the Center for Science and Democracy’s Scholar Council on Democracy, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Oct 20, 2021

WASHINGTON (October 20, 2021)—Despite efforts throughout the summer to compromise on a revised voting rights bill, and despite earning majority support, the Freedom to Vote Act failed to meet the voting threshold in the U.S. Senate today due to Republican use of the filibuster. This is a serious setback for efforts to build a stronger democracy where everyone has the freedom to vote, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by the Scholar Council on Democracy for the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.

“We need national standards and stronger protections for the right to vote to ensure we have a true democracy. Regardless of the vote today, we know the Freedom to Vote Act is a step in the right direction. Its provisions would set minimum federal standards for voter access, election infrastructure, electoral integrity, redistricting, campaign finance, and the rights of communities who have historically faced discrimination at the polls. This bill was crafted as a compromise in the hope of achieving bipartisan support for voting rights and reforms as we have seen in the past, yet it hit the same wall of unfounded partisan opposition that crushed the chances of previous voting rights bills such as the For the People Act.

“The routine use of the filibuster is not just an undemocratic tactic. It’s now, clearly, a threat to the democratic process. Enough is enough.

“We will not secure healthy communities, achieve equal justice, and the freedom to vote for all unless everyone’s voice can be heard in the political process. It’s long past time to fulfill the promises of multiracial, participatory democracy, a cause for which generations of civil rights activists and communities have risked their lives.”

Dr. Andrea Benjamin, Associate Professor in the Clara Luper Department of African & African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma

Dr. Adrienne Jones, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Morehouse College and Director of the Pre-Law Program

Dr. Michael Latner, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at California Polytechnic State University and Kendall Voting Rights Fellow with the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS

Dr. Jean Schroedel, Professor Emerita of Politics and Policy at Claremont Graduate University

Dr. Hannah Walker, Assistant Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin