Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles-Lawson, penned an open letter to Senate leaders urging them to pass a COVID-19 relief bill that includes significant funding for the upcoming November elections.
Knowles-Lawson wrote the letter in partnership with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ campaign, And I Still Vote. It’s addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and urges them to pass the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion safety net bill that’s already cleared the House and will benefit those impacted most by COVID-19.
Among the provisions in the Heroes Act is a proposed $3.6 billion for state administration of federal elections, which Knowles-Lawson called “essential if we are, collectively as a nation, to ensure access to the ballot box for all while protecting our nation’s health and safety amid a pandemic — the second wave of which is all but certain this fall.” She states that the Heroes Act would help expand voter registration opportunities, provide at least two weeks of safe in-person early voting and send out absentee ballots with pre-paid postage to every registered voter in America.
“Congress has starved state and local communities of the resources they need to run safe and accessible elections,” Knowles-Lawson wrote. “We can’t allow this in November. Our democracy can’t wait.”
As Knowles-Lawson noted, her letter arrives June 25th, the seventh anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965. She goes on to point out the chaos that’s already ensued in primaries across the country, including long lines, inadequate training for poll workers and broken machines — problems that overwhelmingly occurred in predominately black precincts. She also pointed out that while vote-by-mail has increased, election administrators have not been able to handle the rise in requests and have subsequently not been able to send out ballots to people in time, forcing them to vote in person.
“This is modern-day voter suppression plain and simple,” Knowles-Lawson said. “Voters in all these states risked their health, and that of their communities, simply to make their voices heard. People should be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote and stay healthy, even during a pandemic. We should not have to choose between public health and a functioning democracy.”
Knowles-Lawson’s letter was signed by both her daughters, Beyoncé and Solange, as well as Viola Davis, Jada Pinkett Smith, Gabrielle Union, Taraji P. Henson, Whoopi Goldberg, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kelly Rowland, Rashida Jones, Lena Waithe and Kerry Washington. It was also signed by Mothers of the Movement — the mothers of Black Americans killed by police officers or gun violence — including Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Tamika Palmer, mother of Breonna Taylor; Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; and Rep. Lucy McBath, mother of Jordan Davis.