Williamsburg activists, protesters recognize John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Day

John Lewis Voting Rights Rally
Posted at 11:44 PM, May 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-09 06:02:34-04

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Saturday in Williamsburg and around the country, voting rights groups and activists dedicated the day as National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day, advocating for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, a bill favored by Democrats.

“I’m out here because I believe voting matters and voting rights matter even more, and this is a time to do what is right and get everyone involved in the voting process. John Lewis's name and voting rights are important,” Charles Swatly, a protester at the rally, said.

Protesters gathered outside of the Williamsburg-James City County Courthouse to voice their support of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. The Williamsburg JCC Indivisible organization and protesters are calling for equal voting rights in several states.

“You want to encourage people to express their voice and be a part of democracy. Not to intimidate them from that opportunity," Swatly said.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Act would require jurisdictions to get approval from either the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court before making changes to elections. Several protesters say certain laws in other states are making it harder to vote.

“In Georgia, they're making it illegal to give someone standing in line water,” Heather Allen, a founding member of Williamsburg JCC Indivisible.

“We make it more difficult for some people to vote. We make it more difficult by putting more polling locations in some districts and fewer in another. Some people have to wait in line and some don’t. We make it difficult by constraining the times you can vote. This legislation will fix all of that," Stan Scott, a protester at the rally, said.

Delegate Mike Mullin, who represents Virginia’s 93rd district, says legislation and government officials should make it easier to vote.

“When you make it easier to vote, people do vote. That’s what we here in Virginia have been able to learn and that what we want for other states," Mullin said.

News 3 reached out to Representative Rob Wittman and he released the following statement:

I believe that the right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, and that no U.S. citizen should face discrimination when exercising this right. The Voting Rights Act is already permanent law and prohibits discrimination. This partisan, Pelosi-drafted bill is a misguided federal power grab giving the Department of Justice control over state and local elections. Similar to H.R. 1, this legislation is yet another unfortunate example of the Democrat Majority’s view that the federal government should control this process and dictate how states and localities should run their elections.