Wisconsin voting rights advocates take part in nationwide events to recognize John Lewis Day of Action

MADISON, Wis.– When Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis died last year, his legacy of fighting didn’t go with him. Groups across the United States came together to protect and improve voting rights on Saturday.

Local and State leaders gathered in Madison, Wis. at the Madison Labor Temple on Park Street before driving through the city’s south side in a “votercade.”

After centuries of laws and amendments to make voter rights more equal, advocates say there’s still more work to be done.

“It would be good if all of us across the United States have equal rights to vote, regardless of zip code, regardless of state,” Chair of Committee Community Coordination for Wisconsin NAACP Earnestine Moss said.

Moss said the country would be a step closer to achieving equitable voting if Congress passes three act. The For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Washington D.C. Admissions Act would each expand and protect voting rights in different ways.

“If not us, then who, and if not now, then when,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said during the event.

Rhodes-Conway said this issue hits home in Madison, where a debate over the legality of absentee ballot drop-off boxes is happening in the legislature.

“The legislature wants to take, they literally want us to rip those ballot boxes out of the ground,” Rhodes-Conway said. “We’re not going to.”

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said Wisconsin’s highest leaders won’t let any bill restricting voting rights on the state level make it past their desks.

“Elections matter. We elected Tony Evers who’s going to veto any sort of voting infringement legislation that comes on his desk, and I’m going to be sitting across his shoulder making sure that it gets vetoed,” Barnes said.

Advocates said everyone can help by calling the people they voted into office, and demand they protect that power.

“One thing about our democracy is that the power is with the vote, and if we lost that, we have no power,” Moss said. “Our voice is our vote and our vote is our voice, and we need to keep it.”

Rhodes-Conway proclaimed May 8, 2021 as the John Lewis Voting Rights Day of Action in Madison.