Senate Failure to Pass Voting Rights Legislation Means Less Representation for Marginalized Populations
TRENTON, N.J., Jan. 20, 2022
TRENTON, N.J., Jan. 20, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Association of Social Workers – New Jersey Chapter (NASW-NJ) is extremely disappointed at the Senate's inability to move forward on the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. Ensuring every citizen's access to the ballot is a key social justice priority of NASW and a major component of bringing empowerment to marginalized and under-represented communities in our nation. We thank our New Jersey Senators Booker and Menendez for their support of this legislation and hope they continue to pursue important voting rights protections that restore and expand upon protections created by the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
"The role of the social work profession is to ensure that all people—and especially marginalized and under-represented people—have self-determination and a voice in shaping the social and public policies that impact their lives," said Jennifer Thompson, MSW, Executive Director of NASW-NJ. "That's why social workers across New Jersey and our nation supported this legislation. Indeed, our professional Code of Ethics specifically states: 'Social workers should facilitate informed participation by the public in shaping social policies and institutions.' Protecting the right to vote certainly fits that bill."
With the failure of federal voting rights legislation, hundreds of thousands of citizens will see their ability to vote curtailed or hindered. Over 400 bills have been introduced at the state level to suppress the right to vote. These bills will have sweeping impacts on communities of color, students, veterans, people with disabilities, and older adults.
"Passage of the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act would have protected citizens from oppressive voting restriction measures that have been implemented or proposed in states across our nation," said Thompson. Instead, mechanisms that allow and encourage voting like mail-in voting, Election Day registration, early voting days, polling place availability, and availability of mail ballot drop boxes will be cut back or eliminated. Some states have gone so far as to make it a crime to provide food or water to a person waiting in line to vote."
"The right to vote is sacred in our society and should be treated as such. It is what makes our democracy possible. Social Workers will continue their efforts to ensure that all citizens have the ability to vote and receive full representation in our political process," declared Thompson. "We will continue to work with state and federal elected officials to ensure the rights bestowed by our constitution are received by all people in our nation."
Founded in 1955, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world, with more than 100,000 members. The New Jersey Chapter is the second largest chapter in the United States, with more than 6,500 members. NASW-NJ works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies. Learn more at www.naswnj.org.
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SOURCE National Association of Social Workers New Jersey