5:01 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Lisa. And good afternoon to everyone. Lisa Gilbert, I want to thank you and Jana Morgan for your leadership and the work that you have been doing tirelessly for such a long time.
It’s good to be with everyone to join in this quarterly meeting. And, again, I want to thank all the leaders who are gathered. You, of course, are not only leaders in the fight to defend our democracy; you really are partners to my office and to our administration, and I want to thank you for that.
You know, we talk often about the — you know, people refer to it — the “inside/outside process,” right? — through which we get things done. And I think our partnership and the work that we’ve done together for — many of us, over the years, really points to the strength of that kind of relationship.
You know, in just three years, Declaration for American Democracy, you have accomplished so much. You’ve brought people together across more than 240 organizations to protect the right of every American to participate in our democracy. And as you know, this work has never been more important.
In 2020 — to the credit of a lot of the folks who are a part of this meeting — in 2020, more Americans voted than ever before. And what a beautiful sight that was to see.
Then, of course, in 2021, states across our nation started passing anti-voter laws. And you all know — the purpose of these laws is no secret — they are in reaction to the 2020 turnout. They are an extension of what has been referred to as the “Big Lie.”
And we cannot, I think, restate the facts enough. We must repeat the facts over and over so everyone is really clear: There was not rampant fraud. The people voted. The people voted. The results were certified by state after state and reaffirmed by court after court.
And still, this year, 33 anti-voter laws have been passed in 19 states. These laws are designed to make it more difficult for people to vote so that they won’t vote. They’re designed so that when people do vote, their vote might not be counted in a fair and transparent process.
And all of this is why Congress must pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
As you all know, the combination of these bills would set a basic standard for voting that puts a stop to obstructionist tactics. These bills would help make sure that all voters, no matter where they live, can vote and have their vote counted.
And, you know, thus far, sadly, nearly every Senate Republican has refused to even debate these two bills. But I want to be very clear: Their unwillingness will not stop our will. And I know everyone here knows we must not give up, we must not give in, and we have to keep fighting.
Over the past few months, I’ve held many, many meetings on voting rights. I’ve convened meetings in South Carolina and Georgia and Michigan and here at the White House. I’ve conmene [sic] — convened meetings with activists and advocates and local policymakers and elections officials; young people who are making sure that their peers know that their vote matters; poll workers who are committed to serve despite fear of harassment; Native voters who have to travel miles and hours to make their voices heard; voters with disabilities who have to overcome incredible structural obstacles to cast their ballot.
In fact, one such voter told me — I quote — “Being able to vote is a cornerstone of what it means to be part of a community.”
The right to vote is a cornerstone of our communities. The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. And that is why the work that you do and the work we do together is so important. And that is, of course, why we must keep fighting.
You know, I know that a lot of us — we’ve been in this process of –- of fighting for civil rights, human rights, social justice, and sometimes we can get a bit tired and frustrated. But we are relentless, and we are prepared, and we know that we are on the side of right.
And we know that while we are in these positions, having been in this long relay race for the fight for civil rights and equality and justice; while we are the ones who have been handed the baton, we must do everything we can, while we possess it, before we pass it on to the next one, to make sure that on this issue of voting, that we protect and we stand for all people’s right to be able to have and express their constitutional right to vote.
And so, I thank you all for what you do. May God bless you. And may God bless America. Thank you.
END 5:07 P.M. EST