Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair and Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn along with U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) strongly condemned the United States Supreme Court’s upholding of Arizona’s voting restrictions last Thursday, July 1.
The case stemmed from the Democratic Party in 2016 suing Arizona over laws barring most people from delivering another person’s mail-in ballot — which some call “ballot harvesting” — and that disqualify ballots that are cast in the wrong precinct.
The Democrats argued that the laws violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and discriminated against non-white voters.
But in a 6-3 ruling with the three liberal justices dissenting, the US Supreme Court provided leeway for states to impose restrictions on voting.
Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. wrote that “where a state provides multiple ways to vote, any burden imposed on voters who choose one of the available options cannot be evaluated without also taking into account the other available means.”
But, in dissenting, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that “wherever it can, the majority gives a cramped reading to broad language.
“And then, it uses that reading to uphold two election laws from Arizona that discriminate against minority voters,” she said. “What is tragic here is that the court has rewritten — in order to weaken — a statute that stands as a monument to America’s greatness and protects against its basest impulses.
“What is tragic is that the court has damaged a statute designed to bring about ‘the end of discrimination in voting,’” Justice Kagan added.
Bichotte Hermelyn, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, described the ruling as a “dark day for our democracy.”
“Today’s SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) Arizona ruling is an abhorrent assault by the GOP (Grand Old Party – Republican Party),” said Bichotte Hermelyn, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn.
“It blatantly undercuts the 1965 Voting Rights Act and undermines the voting strength of minorities and people of color,” she added. “It is a dark day for our democracy.
“Time and again, the courts have found zero evidence of voter fraud in the Presidential Election,” Bichotte Hermelyn continued. “This continued wave of voting rights attacks is nothing more than an overt racist attempt to rob people of their ability to participate in our democracy.
“We need to urgently take action at all state and federal levels to restore and expand voting protections, including passing the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” she said.
Jeffries, who represents a significant number of Caribbean immigrants in the 8th Congressional District, comprising parts of Brooklyn and Queens, said the US Supreme Court’s decision “reinforces what we already know: voting rights are under assault in America.
“And we must act with the fierce urgency of now to end the era of voter suppression once and for all,” he said. “As Republicans throughout the country work night and day to make it harder to vote and easier to steal an election, the time has come to tackle the voter suppression epidemic.
“The late, great Congressman John Lewis made it clear to us that when we see wrong, when we see injustice, when we see things that need to change, we should find a way to get in the way,” Jeffries added. “That is why House Democrats have put forth H.R. 1, the For the People Act, and are preparing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to bring our democracy back to life.”
The congressman said the right to vote is fundamental to America’s democracy.
“Every single American regardless of race, regardless of gender, regardless of ZIP code, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and regardless of religion must have an equal opportunity to have their voice heard,” he said.
“As long as Republicans continue to play games in an attempt to undermine our democracy and rig elections in their favor, House Democrats will be there to stand up for a republic that reflects the participation of all Americans,” Jeffries added.