WASHINGTON — On the 54th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) called on Congress to pass her legislation to make voting easier for all Americans. Klobuchar, the Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight jurisdiction over federal elections, introduced three bills. One to automatically register all eligible voters, another to inform young people about voter registration and elections, and finally, one to make it easier to vote on Election Day by allowing people to register to vote at the polls. In 2018, Minnesotans turned out to vote at the highest rate of any state in the country with 64.25 percent of registered voters casting a ballot.
“Fifty four years ago, hundreds of civil rights advocates marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma peacefully asking for equal voting rights—they were met with violence and brutality,” Klobuchar said. “While we’ve come a long way since that tragic day, we have a long way to go in ensuring that all people have equal access to the ballot box. My bills would remove some of the barriers that make it difficult to cast a ballot and educate the next generation of voters about the process and importance of participating in our elections.”
The Register America to Vote Act would ensure that every state implements a secure process to automatically register eligible citizens to vote on their eighteenth birthday. The bill also directs states to allow voters who have been automatically registered, or who were previously registered to vote, to update their address through the day of the election. The bill authorizes a $325 million grant program for states to implement their automatic voter registration programs and to improve their election security. According to the Center for American Progress, automatically registering voters in every state would result in 22 million newly registered voters in just the first year of implementation. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have authorized automatic voter registration and Minnesota was among the 19 states that introduced automatic voter registration legislation last year.
The Students Voicing Opinions in Today’s Elections (VOTE) Act would create a pilot program to educate high school seniors about registering to vote and help get them registered. The Same Day Registration Act would require states to allow people to register to vote on the same day as the election.
Throughout her time in the Senate, Klobuchar has been fighting to protect voting rights for all Americans. Earlier this month, Klobuchar and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the SAVE VOTERs Act to amend the National Voter Registration Act to clarify that a state may not use someone’s failure to vote as reason to remove them as a registered voter. In March, Klobuchar and Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced the Support our Military Spouses Act. This legislation would reduce confusion and ensure military spouses do not have to establish new legal residency after every military reassignment. In 2017, Klobuchar and Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Automatic Voter Registration Act, which would require states to automatically register eligible voters when they interact with certain state or federal agencies, unless the person declines. Klobuchar traveled to Selma, Alabama with Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) in 2014 where they visited several landmark sites of the civil rights movement including the Edmund Pettus Bridge.