Office of inclusive excellence | Photo by Kelsie Tomlinson | The Wright State Guardian
House Bill HR.5746, the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, failed to pass during the Congress’ January 2022 convening. Wright State University (WSU) voices reflect on the bill’s implications for students in the Dayton community.
Freedom to Vote Act fails to pass the Senate
HR.5746, Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act failed to pass the Senate during Jan. 19 joint session.
First introduced as S.2747, or Freedom to Vote Act, on Sept. 14, 2021, HR.5746 addresses voting access, the establishment of Election Day as a federal holiday, the establishment of federal offenses related to voter disenfranchisement, and more.
The implementation of same-day voter registration, mail-in voting access and post-election auditing are detailed within the act per The United States Congress most recent iteration of HR.5746. In addition, any attempt to corrupt, hinder, interfere with, or prevent another individual from voting would become a criminal offense.
WSU community response
Kalesha Scott is a graduate student at WSU and the Dayton Student Organizer for the Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC) and the Ohio Student Association (OSA). Scott voiced support for HR.5746 and its potential impact on the community.
“Young people, those in college or fresh out of high school, we have a voice too, and it’s important for our voice to be heard,” Scott said.
Scott identified gerrymandering, or voter district manipulation with intent to influence election results, as a critical concern for Dayton residents.
“Gerrymandering is an issue here in Dayton. Voting districts […] are incredibly odd, and it doesn’t make much sense how things are split up. Our organization tried to help with these maps based on the community and their preferences, but it’s ultimately up to whoever is in office. If they don’t listen, nothing changes,” Scott said.
Yet, support for HR.5746 in the WSU community is not unanimous.
“I don’t think that the Freedom to Vote Act would’ve had much of an impact on our community had it passed. People can vote. The issue is getting them to participate in the voting process,” Blake Bailey, student and president of the WSU College Republican Organization, said.
Bailey raised concerns regarding voting security.
“With a bill like the Freedom to Vote Act, there are aspects that, of course, everyone supports. And then there are other aspects that are harder to get behind. The voter ID aspect was a concern for our organization,” Bailey said.