Krajewski, Kenyatta push back against false voting ‘integrity’ efforts, promote support for enhanced and expanded voting rights for all


HARRISBURG, June 7 — State Reps. Rick Krajewski and Malcolm Kenyatta, both D-Phila., pushed back against the false right-wing narrative regarding voting integrity efforts Monday, instead promoting the need to increase access to voting for all, and especially for those whose voting rights are under attack. 

“Over the past 18 months, as we have seen unprecedented movements and victories in the fight against police violence, the defeat of Donald Trump, Democratic control of the U.S. Senate and more; we have also seen a steep increase in attempts by the right-wing elite to disenfranchise the marginalized people who have benefited from these achievements,” Krajewski said during the Defending Democracy event he and Kenyatta led. “That is no coincidence. 

“Government should be by the people, for the people, but as the people have started shaking things up and dismantling the status quo, their rights to choose their elected officials through free and fair elections have come under attack through farcical efforts to question the integrity of our elections,” Krajewski continued. “We will not stand for this misleading misdirection and we wanted to bring this issue into the spotlight so we can examine the ways in which access to voting must be expanded and voting rights upheld.” 

“Voter suppression tactics have become as American as apple pie, with almost every generation of Black and brown Americans having to combat vicious attacks on their right to vote.” Kenyatta said. “We’re currently in the wake of yet another movement to protect our most vital civil liberty as right-wing elites continue to demonize the historic voter turnout among Black and brown communities in the 2020 General Election as criminal. 

“We as lawmakers fighting the good fight must directly condemn these attacks and their purveyors and we must be intentional in our approach to create comprehensive policy that wholly increases voting access, especially for historically marginalized communities. The right-wing elites working hard to mute our voices are quaking at the collective political power we yield because they know that voting ultimately sets us free from the shackles of their oppression.” 

“There is a vicious effort to suppress our right to vote, which will lead to furthering the disenfranchisement in our communities, particularly in marginalized areas,” said Brittany Smalls, Pennsylvania state coordinator for Black Voters Matter Fund. “It is important for folks to understand that no action to counter misinformation seeking to disenfranchise voters is too small. Grass roots, peer-to-peer messaging to promote the importance of voting and to spread knowledge that supports expanding voting rights is crucial to pushing back against those who want to see many voters stay home." 

"We are seeing a continued and a renewed assault on the vote in America," said Nicolas O’Rourke, a member of the Pennsylvania Working Families Party. "Democracies around the world are always changing, becoming either more democratic or less democratic. In the U.S., we're trending toward the erosion of democracy and its most important component, the vote. The assault on the vote, which is so precious to Black Americans, is a very real threat that must be stopped with a pro-democracy movement that pulls all of us together in its defense." 

“Democracy is an opportunity for us to build power in Pennsylvania for the long term, in order to construct and support the values we want to see in our government,” said Salewa Ogunmefun, executive director of Pennsylvania Voice. “To achieve that reality, we must have a state legislature that is representative of our state population and makes decisions in the best interests of most of the people in our state. Expanding voting rights and access will allow us to elect a government that is truly representative of the people who live here. I’m grateful to Representatives Krajewski and Kenyatta for hosting a forum where we could highlight this issue which is central to our democracy.” 

Krajewski and Kenyatta are co-chairs of the Subcommittee of Voting and Democracy of the PA Legislative Black Caucus. Monday’s hearing was held in conjunction with the PLBC.

A recording of the hearing can be found here.