MORGANTOWN — Morgantown City Council will take up a resolution supporting the federal passage of the For the People Act (H.R.1).
Currently before Congress, the bill would expand voting rights, change campaign finance laws to limit the influence of money on elections, limit gerrymandering and create new ethics rules for officeholders.
During a brief Tuesday committee of the whole session, Morgantown/Kingwood NAACP President Jerry Carr explained why the NAACP, as well as the Morgantown Human Rights Commission, are seeking council’s support.
“Let’s just put it on the table. We’re scared,” Carr said. “The communities out there, marginalized communities across the country are absolutely terrified because it’s not outside of our memory as to how bad things can be if you disenfranchise voters.”
Carr went on to say that efforts to suppress and disenfranchise voters are underway across the country, noting “States have a lot of latitude in what they can do. We just want guardrails. That’s going to take a federal push in order to do that.”
Morgantown Human Rights Commission Chair Ash Orr called the bill “one of the greatest civil rights bills ever; really since the civil rights movement itself.”
Orr went on to say that local support by communities like Morgantown sends an important message to the state’s national representatives that transformative change is needed.
“The reality is the For the People Act is list of things that any country calling itself a democracy should already have, but we don’t,” Orr said, referencing election issues like voter ID requirements, the influence of dark money and protections for people of color, LGBTQ individuals and BIPOC individuals.
The resolution that will come before council asserts that “voter suppression rooted in racist and white nationalist ideology is pervasive.”
It goes on to point out that this a “watershed moment in American history in which federal action is required to ensure free and fair elections” due, at least in part to an authoritarian movement, “driven in large degree by racial motives.”
Council moved the resolution forward for consideration at a future regular meeting.