This story originally appeared in Common Dreams on Nov. 8, 2021. It is shared here with permission under a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) license.
Citing “unprecedented and coordinated” Republican efforts to undermine public trust in the US electoral system, nearly 60 advocacy groups warned Monday of the need defend democracy ahead of the 2022 midterm elections—including by passing the Freedom to Vote Act.
“Our democracy faces an existential threat—the very real possibility that the outcome of an election could be ignored and the will of the people overturned by hyperpartisan actors,” 58 groups including MoveOn.org, Protect Democracy, Public Citizen, SEIU, and the Sierra Club assert in an open letter.
“Since the 2020 election, we have seen unprecedented and coordinated efforts to cast doubt on the U.S. election system,” the letter states.
“These efforts have taken many forms,” the authors explain, including “widespread disinformation campaigns and baseless claims of election fraud, … intimidation of election officials and administrators just for doing their jobs, new state laws to make election administration more partisan and more susceptible to manipulation or sabotage, and outright violence.”
Noting that “exaggerated and unsubstantiated fears about voter fraud have been a vote suppression tool for some time,” the letter argues that “these efforts took on entirely new ferocity with the advent of former President [Donald] Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ regarding the 2020 presidential election.”
“The danger posed by the concerted effort to spread disinformation and undermine confidence in our elections is not hypothetical or speculative,” the authors assert. “We have already seen tragic consequences in the form of a violent insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.”
“Despite the fact that experts across the political spectrum—including Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security—have confirmed that the 2020 election was as free, fair, and secure as any in American history, Trump and his supporters have done all they can to cast doubt on the integrity of the process,” the letter says.
While warning that the GOP could work to overturn future elections, the signatories assure that “there are steps we can take to prevent this dire outcome, but we must take swift action.”
“We must push back on dangerous state initiatives that endanger democracy; Congress must enact critical provisions to protect federal elections and elections officials from partisan attacks and subversion, such as those included in the Freedom to Vote Act; and legal remedies must be brought to bear as needed,” the coalition says.
“Further, elected officials and public servants at all levels must condemn attacks on the processes that allow for free and fair democratic election, free of partisanship,” the signers add.
Many of the groups that signed the letter also support abolishing the Senate filibuster, a procedure historically used to block civil rights legislation—including the Freedom to Vote Act late last month.