Protecting Our Democracy: Congressman Proposes Bills to Protect Voting Rights

Congressman Mondaire Jones credit: Office of Congressman Mondaire Jones


New York Congressman Mondaire Jones spoke about voting rights and three bills he introduced to protect and renew our democracy on Feb. 3, as part of the Center for Common Ground’s “Road to the Midterms: Looking Forward and Federal.”

“Our democracy is in crisis–it faces its greatest test since Jim Crow,” he said.

He was referring to the Senate’s refusal to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act which would create standardized election laws through the country to make it easier for citizens, especially people of color to vote.

The Center for Common Ground hosted this event as a part of their series which invites members of Congress to speak about voting rights. The Center focuses on empowering and educating people to vote. According to founding board member Andrea Miller, Common Ground is involved in eight Southern states to ensure that Black and People of Color having voting rights and they are able to vote without an issue. The series hosted by the organization give congressmembers a chance to not only introduce the legislation they are working on but give the people a chance to ask them questions and give them feedback on their work.

Congressman Jones, who represents New York’s 17th District—Rockland County and parts of Westchester—reassured people to not be discouraged by the Senate turning down the John R. Lewis Act, which would automatically register all American citizens to vote and allow all voters to cast mail-in ballots.

“Progress isn’t always linear, it’s messy,” he said. “There are false starts, there are setbacks like what happened in the Senate last month, but the weight of history and the force of reason are on our side.”

The Congressman spoke on the bills he introduced which have already seen progress. The Right to Vote Act was introduced to the House of Representatives over the summer. It would guarantee to every citizen of voting age the right to vote “free from any burden as to the time, place or manner of voting.”

His second Bill, The Inclusion Elections Act, is to restore section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and outlaw voter suppression laws. This would focus on voter intimidation laws such as denying a voter’s right to vote based on race and class, along with banning giving out food and water at the voting line, which can be extremely long in many voting sites.

Congressman Jones also criticized the Supreme Court for refusing to weigh in on laws that have clear racial discrimination intentions. This led to his third bill the Judiciary Act of 2021, which would restore balance to the Supreme Court by adding four more seats.

When asked if he thinks Supreme Court Justices should be held to term limits as opposed to a life tenure, he said, “I don’t think the problem is that the judges’ have tenure. I think it’s the kind of judges we appoint to the Supreme Court.”

“I’m focused on expanding the Supreme Court. Because term limits would not solve the crisis that we face at this moment. Right now we have a court that has never struck down a voter suppression law as unconstitutional not even once. Right now we have a court that has twice struck down or weaken a crucial component of the voting rights act of 1965.”