Why we need the Freedom to Vote Act

Heath Howard

If you are a young person in New Hampshire like me, there is a seemingly endless list of concerns that make us question our future. Every day, we see the devastating effects of climate change with more and more ‘once-in-a-generation’ storms and record-breaking wildfires that are becoming commonplace. The crippling student debt crisis continues to weigh down generations, making it difficult to get ahead and stay ahead, and to make it even worse leaders in Concord keep raising out-of-state tuition, and that’s not to mention the challenge of finding a job and an affordable place to live after graduation.  None of these issues will matter unless we focus on fixing the state of our democracy.  

Across the country, we’ve seen attacks on the freedom to vote, dark money flooding our elections with unaccountable advertising, and corrupt politicians flaunting ethics rules to help themselves and their families get rich. Right here in New Hampshire, there are multiple bills making their way through the Republican-led State House specifically targeting the voting rights of working age, mobile and even senior voters in New Hampshire.  

We have a chance to save our democracy and stop these attacks in the form of both the historic Freedom to Vote Act (the new version of the For The People Act) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. These bills will help return back power to all Granite Staters – regardless of your party – and make sure the government works for the people. Inaction is not an option. Thankfully, our Congressional delegation has all co-sponsored the For the People Act and they’ve been clear in their support for our democracy. Rep. Chris Pappas deserves praise for his work on the Protect the Youth Vote Act, which was incorporated in the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act last week. 

Unfortunately, there is still a bumpy road ahead for these bills. Last month, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — who led negotiations on the updated draft of the bill that the Senate will move forward. I told him about the relentless, unconstitutional attacks on the student vote here in New Hampshire with politicians who try to change the laws to rig the system against us by silencing our voices rather than try to earn our support. He expressed significant concern about these efforts and all those across the country that attempt to shut people out of our democracy.  

If we are going to make progress on all the other issues we care about — climate change, student debt and access to affordable health care — then we need to make our democracy work for the people. Our democracy is too important to be slowed by arcane Senate rules aimed at silencing the will of the people. The American people support the Freedom to Vote Act and Granite Staters support the Freedom to Vote Act. I urge Congress to listen to us and save our democracy. Failure is not an option.