Oversight chair: I'll 'fight until the death' for our voting rights


Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings gave a powerful defense of voting rights under attack by Republicans.

House Oversight chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) delivered a blistering defense of voting rights during a Wednesday hearing, saying he would "fight until the death to make sure every citizen ... has the right to vote."

The committee is examining H.R. 1, proposed Democratic legislation designed to protect voter rights against ongoing attacks that have been carried out by Republicans at the federal, state, and local levels.

Cummings relayed the last words of his recently deceased mother, a 92-year-old former sharecropper: "Do not let them take our votes away from us."

"Voting is crucial," Cummings declared, "and I don't give a damn how you look at it. There are efforts to stop people from voting. That's not right! This is not Russia. This is the United States of America.

"And I will fight until the death to make sure every citizen — whether they're Green Party, whether they're Freedom Party, whether they're Democrat, whether they're a Republican, whoever — has that right to vote. Because it is the essence of our democracy."

For years Republicans have worked to manipulate voting laws and regulations to exclude voters, particularly in communities with a large amount Democratic-leaning voters. They have singled out areas with college-age voters, black voters and Latino voters, seeking to suppress turnout and empower Republican politicians.

Those efforts have been assisted at the federal level by Republicans, who refused to reauthorize key provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

Trump has nominated a judge who was a key architect of the election law the Supreme Court singled out for its blatant discrimination. Trump has also repeatedly pushed lies about undocumented immigrants to justify restrictive voter ID laws that hurt the minority vote.

If passed, H.R. 1 would circumvent many of these attempts by making the protection of voters part of federal law, while also helping states get eligible voters to the polls.

For that very reason, it has come under intense attack from Republican leadership like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has called protecting voter rights a "power grab."

Cummings impassioned statement put the fight into clear context. Those who oppose improvements to the laws protecting voters are marching in the tradition of the worst of American history.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.