Press Releases

CONGRESSWOMAN STACEY PLASKETT STATEMENT ON THE PASSAGE OF HR 1 THE FOR THE PEOPLE ACT

Washington, March 12, 2019

PRESS STATEMENT

CONGRESSWOMAN STACEY PLASKETT STATEMENT ON THE PASSAGE OF HR 1 THE FOR THE PEOPLE ACT

“Democrats are committed to ensuring that voting is free, fair and easy for all citizens and that every vote by an eligible voter is counted as cast,” stated Congresswoman Plaskett

Washington, DC - Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 1 – The For the People Act:

“H.R. 1 represents a transformation for American democracy.  It would create a democracy that welcomes every eligible voter’s chance to participate in civil life, and a democracy that demands integrity, fairness and transparency for our nations’ elections.  Despite the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which was readopted and strengthened in 1970, 1975 and 1982; voter suppression has been a shameful reality in our country – undermining the power and representation of African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and other groups historically excluded from our political process. The ability to have meaningful participation in our democracy is crucial to the vibrancy of our nation.  H.R. 1 is an opportunity for voting reform that includes everyone – including the US territories.

"Democrats are committed to ensuring that voting is free, fair and easy for all citizens and that every vote by an eligible voter is counted as cast.   H.R. 1 incorporates key provisions of Rep. John Lewis’ Voter Empowerment Act, and ends systemic, discriminatory barriers to voting by ending the indiscriminate purging of voters from the rolls, restores voting rights to individuals with felony convictions after they have completed their prison sentences, establishes automatic voter registration, and expands absentee and early voting.  The bill also makes important revisions to government ethics laws.

“Americans have seen and Virgin Islanders (and others living in the territories feel) the impact of limited electoral participation.  For example, federal legislation often has unintended consequences to the territories or are passed with deficiencies in treatment to the territories; residents of the territories serve in the armed forces in disproportional numbers but cannot vote for their Commander in Chief; citizens in the Pacific live under constant nuclear threat from North Korea but have no voting representative in Congress to influence American foreign policy.  I am pleased to announce that an Amendment to create a Congressional Task Force on Territorial Voting Rights, that my office proposed with the support of the territorial members on both sides of the aisle (along with many of our colleagues) has been incorporated into H.R. 1 which just passed the U.S. House of Representatives. My amendment calls for the creation of a Congressional Task Force to look into:

·  impediments to full and equal voting rights for United States citizens who are residents of territories of the United States in Federal elections;

·  impediments to full and equal voting representation in the House of Representatives for United States citizens who are residents of territories of the United States;

·  recommend changes that would allow for full and equal voting right in Federal elections; and

·  recommend changes that would allow for full and equal voting representation in the House of Representatives.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer commented, “I’m glad that we included in H.R. 1 a provision to launch a new task force exploring voting rights for U.S. territories. It is critically important that all Americans have their voices heard in their Congress, and I thank Stacey for her hard work and ongoing efforts to secure full representation for the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

“Congress which has the constitutional responsibility for the territories must create a plan to end the untenable positions under which the American citizens living in the territories reside. This bill passed in the US House and now moves to the Senate.  It is the first major legislative step in curing this ill, this stain on our country and blight over the people of the territories.

Neil Weare, President and Founder of Equally American, a nonprofit organization that advocates for equality and voting rights in U.S. territories commented, “Voting rights in U.S. Territories is a challenging political issue to solve. That’s why Congresswoman Plaskett’s leadership in getting Congress to take seriously the structural disenfranchisement of nearly 4 million Americans is so vitally important. This is yet another example of Congresswoman Plaskett seizing the opportunity to advance national awareness on these issues at every turn. That’s how we will get from where we are to where we want to be."

“Until the United States began ownership of offshore territories, which have majority minority people, disenfranchisement in territories was viewed as a temporary condition.  From the 1787 Northwest Ordinance until the acquisition of Puerto Rico, lands were deemed territories with the expectation that they would eventually become fully part of the Union as states.  Under the Constitution Congress has the responsibility for the territories and inclusion of my Amendment in this bill, forces Congress to begin finding equity for the citizens of the territory in voting rights.”

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