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Local groups crusade for voting rights legislation on MLK Day

ABC21 News at 5
Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 5:47 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - A struggle in Congress over bills to expand voting rights has sparked demonstrations across the country. In Fort Wayne on Martin Luther King Day, advocates for minorities, the poor and others gathered to demand action from elected officials on two key pieces of voting rights legislation.

Representatives from the Indiana Poor People’s Campaign and League of Women Voters braved the cold Monday, setting up near the Martin Luther King Bridge downtown to advocate for passage of the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

On the holiday honoring Dr. King, those groups said they needed to send a message to Indiana’s two U.S. Senators, Mike Braun and Todd Young, that there should be “No celebration without legislation.” The Senate is ready to debate both bills Tuesday, which would expand voter registration, designate Election Day as a federal holiday, establish protections against gerrymandering and restore voting rights to people who at one time were incarcerated.

Two Fort Wayne pastors who attended the event near the MLK Bridge said it’s time to value the voices of those they believe are too often forgotten.

“(We need) to stand up for the community, everybody has a right to vote, everybody has a right to live,” said Junius Pressey with Bread From Heaven Ministries.

“I know brothers and sisters and siblings of mine who are not able to vote at all, who contribute so much to this very community in Fort Wayne and their voices matter,” said Kimberly Koczan with the Indiana Poor People’s Campaign.

Republicans in the U.S. Senate have fought passage of the bills in question, claiming they are not about voting rights, but about a power grab by Democrats.

The Fort Wayne rally organizers are asking constituents to call their Senators at 883-345-2551 to let them know what they think about the voting rights legislation under consideration.

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