Special to The Dallas Examiner
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg kicked off his first bus tour through 27 states Jan. 11. Day one of the tour included several stops in Texas, concluding in Dallas at Happiest Hour.
During the tour, Bloomberg presented his plan, which he hopes will expand voting rights and ensure all Americans will have their votes counted in federal elections.
Bloomberg introduced his policy as he traveled to Georgia, where in 2018 the Secretary of State took steps to disenfranchise African Americans. The plan includes four key pillars for federal elections: Protecting voting rights for all Americans; promoting fair elections and eliminating partisan influence; making sure that all eligible voters are able to easily register and cast their ballots; and ensuring the security and integrity of federal elections.
“The right to vote is the fundamental right that protects all of the others, but in states around the country, it is under attack,” Bloomberg said. “That’s a disgrace to our Constitution and an insult to generations of people who fought and marched to win the right to vote. We need to end voter suppression once and for all. That’s why I’ve made such a big commitment to registering voters around the country. And it’s why as president, I will support a new national Voting Rights Act that requires states to conduct automatic voter registration and adopt other reforms – like early voting – that improve access to the ballot in federal elections.”
Bloomberg also pointed out how he felt President Trump has continued to undermine the voting process, as he repeatedly claims that the 2016 election was rigged, as well as his numerous, unsupported accusations that millions of people have been illegally voting, namely undocumented immigrants. He noted that Trump’s voting commission began asking to see Texas records that identified all voters with Hispanic surnames. His voter fraud commission was dissolved after several lawsuits and states refused to turn over voter information.
There are currently 36 states that require voters to show some form of ID at the polls, disproportionately affecting Black and Latino voters, Native Americans, transgender individuals, and others.
Moreover, with nearly 8 percent of Black adults prevented from voting due to past convictions, four times the rate of other Americans, Bloomberg’s plan focuses on a series of initiatives intended to eliminate racial disparities in voting rights.
Bloomberg’s plan included the following:
- Protect the voting rights of all Americans and prevent discrimination and voter suppression.
- End Gerrymandering and Eliminate Partisan Influence in Elections.
- Make it easier and more convenient to vote.
- Protect and secure the integrity of U.S. elections.
“Being able to cast your ballot for the candidate of your choice is a basic part of any democracy,” said Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Bloomberg campaign national political chair. “But, people of color and minorities have traditionally been actively kept out of the franchise. How? Through voter purges, gerrymandering, and biased voter identification requirements that discriminate against these communities. Mike and I both support making voting less discriminatory and more convenient. Mike is all for creating a non-partisan commission that would draft federal voting standards and establish a new Voting Rights Act that protects vulnerable communities.
Calling the plan a common sense approach, Nutter went on to say that Bloomberg would block voter purges and federally fund an awareness campaign for voter rights to educate citizens of their rights and what to do if they those rights are violated.
Nutter also commented on the need to make sure that the voting process is secure, saying that once everyone has the opportunity to vote, officials need to ensure that ever vote is counted
“The fight to expand voting rights in the south – especially for African Americans – has a champion in Mike Bloomberg,” said Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Steve Benjamin, Mike Bloomberg 2020 national co-chair. “Mike’s new Voter Rights plan protects the voting rights of all Americans by making it easier to register to vote, increasing access to and accountability at voting sites, and eliminating partisan gerrymandering. As a mayor in South Carolina, where Voter ID laws have disproportionately impacted African Americans, I know Mike’s leadership will increase the participation in our democratic process.”
Jarret Berg, co-founder of VoteEarlyNY, also supported the plan.
“Mike Bloomberg’s sweeping voting reform plan would safeguard civil rights through independent redistricting and new VRA protections, and usher in modern election best-practices like early voting and automatic registration, which reduce barriers to participation,” Berg said. “Both parties should be prioritizing these shared American priorities, and Mayor Mike’s leadership is laudable.
As a leader in a women’s advocacy group that is dedicated to creating more viable representatives in American government, Sharon Nelson, CREWomen said she was glad to know someone was working on – what she referred to as – “breakthrough voter reform efforts” that would protect diversity and inclusion in the right to vote.
“Universally, the right to vote continues to be elusive for Americans, particularly for Underrepresented populations,” Nelson said. “A solid and universally accessible Voting Protection Plan can help to repair the value of the voting process to make it more inclusive as it should be.”