Community groups have held vigils across Massachusetts this week to call for voting and democracy reform on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack following the 2020 election.
As the U.S. Department of Justice continues to investigate the riot, Congress is taking up voting-rights legislation. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act passed the House, but is stalled in the Senate.
Senators have introduced a separate bill, the Freedom to Vote Act.
Debbie Paul, chairperson of the Massachusetts Indivisible Coalition, said voters want to see action.
“They need to do what we elected them to do, and to defend and protect the Constitution they took an oath to,” Paul asserted. “And now is the time to do that, by passing both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.”
A new UMASS Amherst national poll found a majority of Americans support measures like the ability to vote by mail and automatic voter registration.
Dhruba Sen, volunteer organizer of a rally in Framingham, said it is important for people to make sure their voices are heard, especially so violence doesn’t become normalized in U.S. politics.
“Anytime there’s any disagreement, the aggrieved parties will arm themselves and invade the local institutions of democracy in order to address their grievances,” Sen worried. “So, I think it is extremely important to make sure that such an event doesn’t happen.”
Four people died during the Jan. 6 riot. So far, six of the more than 700 people who face federal charges in connection with the insurrection are from Massachusetts.
Susan Labandibar, co-coordinator for the Swing Blue Alliance, said it is important for people of all political views to come together in support of voting rights.
“The issue of our voting rights being abrogated, and the efforts to undermine the institutions that ensure that we have free and fair elections, this transcends party politics,” Labandibar contended.