The Womxn Project is a statewide organization focused on leveraging the power of art, activism, advocacy and education to advance the principles of reproductive justice, which demands that we all have the right to determine when and how we build our relationships, families and futures and that we have the ability to live and raise our children with dignity.
We are proud to submit testimony in support of S2007, which ensures access to voting by mail and improves the process for requesting a mail-in ballot. Our vote is our voice. Our vote is our chance to have a say in who makes key decisions about our health, our families and our lives. We should do more to ensure that people are able to vote, and not allow our right to vote to be trampled on our taken away.
The Voting Rights Act was enacted in 1965 after years of people of color enduring violence and mistreatment when they tried to register or to exercise our right to vote. The VRA was meant to prohibit the practices that were designed to humiliate and to exclude people of color from voting, but the fact is that across the country we are still fighting limitations on who gets to vote either intentionally through disenfranchisement like voter ID or voter roll purges or through a lack of attention to what true accessibility requires.
Limits on voting have a disparate impact on people of color and other people who are pushed to the margins and silenced. In this time when we are working to dismantle systemic oppression, getting rid of obstacles to enfranchisement and access to the ballot is beyond critical. The Womxn Project is proud to speak out with “Let RI Vote” and our partners across the state to advance this legislation, which would ensure all Rhode Islanders the opportunity to vote by mail. It would also create a hotline to support voters with questions and information.
In recent years we have seen coordinating attacks on voting rights and ballot access and unfounded questions about the validity of our elections. This presents a grave threat to our democracy. It also upholds the systems that maintain white supremacy and limit access to reproductive healthcare, and obstruct access to health care for Black, Indigenous and other people of color. Voting is intrinsically linked to pushing for the change that our families need and our communities deserve.
We must do more to secure voting reforms to ensure every single person feels safe voting and can vote if they want. This will be critical to real social change even after we have moved past the immediate crisis of the pandemic. Fortunately, we have a roadmap to begin to make that happen. Making sure that people can use a mail-in ballot without onerous requirements or barriers is an important first step.
Whether we are looking at the need to aggressively take on systemic oppression or the continued gaps in access to healthcare, voting is part of that work. We all need to know that our voices will be heard. We need to make voting work for everyone. This legislation is an important first step. We urge you to support S 2007. Thank you for your consideration.
Contact: Emma Gauthier, [email protected], 508-648-8180