Rep. Sewell Opening Statement During First Hearing as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Elections
March 10, 2023
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07), Ranking Member of the Committee on House Administration Subcommittee on Elections, delivered her opening statement during the Subcommittee's first hearing of the 118th Congress, entitled Successes in the 2022 Midterm Elections. As Ranking Member, Sewell serves as the highest-ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the administration of federal elections.
Opening Statement (As Prepared): Good morning. As the new Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Elections, I would like to thank Chairwoman Lee for welcoming us all this morning, and I look forward to working with her and all my fellow colleagues on the Subcommittee.
Providing oversight over federal election administration and ensuring every American has free and equitable access to the ballot is vital to our democracy.
I represent Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District, a district with a long, storied history in this country’s struggle for free and fair access to the ballot. I am excited to join this Committee and continue this critical work.
Last weekend we marked the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in my hometown of Selma with President Biden, a bipartisan delegation of Members of Congress, civil rights leaders, and many of the surviving Foot Soldiers of the March from Selma to Montgomery. This annual pilgrimage serves as a reminder that the violent struggle for voting rights and equal access to the ballot is not one of the distant past. As we sit here today discussing the 2022 midterm elections, we must not lose sight of the fact that the struggle for equal voting rights that occurred on the Edmund Pettus Bridge 58 years ago, continues today.
There were successes in the 2022 midterms, to be sure. Millions of Americans cast their ballots, those ballots were counted, and election workers across the country performed admirably despite the threats and harassment they have faced over the last two years.
The election was secure, as it was in 2020.
Those who continued perpetuating the Big Lie that the last presidential election was stolen, and who traffic in falsehoods about the security of our elections lost many of their races for critical statewide offices.
Furthermore, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, in 2022 at least 12 states enacted laws that expand access to the vote.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, however, the Brennan Center found that another 12 states enacted restrictive or election interference legislation. We should applaud increases in voter turnout, not respond to them with new restrictions.
Additionally, while many minority communities overcame barriers to cast their ballot - it does not make those barriers fair, and it certainly does not justify or validate their existence.
In the years since the Supreme Court’s egregious decision in Shelby County v. Holder, states with a history of voter discrimination are no longer required to preclear their voting laws to ensure they are not discriminatory, allowing a wave of anti-voter laws to be adopted across the country. Today, the Supreme Court continues to dismantle the Voting Rights Act.
I am proud to be the lead sponsor of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill that would update and reinstate the full force of the Voting Rights Act, a law that protected voters from discrimination for more than 50 years. Additionally, House Democrats have repeatedly passed pro-democracy legislation that would protect voters’ access to the ballot.
Generations of Americans fought for the sacred right to vote, overcoming barriers and violence to move us forward in the fight for democracy. The people of Alabama and this country have marched, bled, been jailed, and sometimes died, for the right to vote.
The work we do as Members of Congress and as members of this Committee should honor their legacy.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today and the discussion to follow.
Thank you, Chairwoman Lee, and I yield back.