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Opinion - Malik Quintod Smith

Sen. Capito’s Lack of Support for the Freedom to Vote Act & Spread of Misinformation to West Virginian Constituents

Opinion

Sen. Capito’s Lack of Support for the Freedom to Vote Act & Spread of Misinformation to West Virginian Constituents

As a canvasser/organizer for Un-PAC, I have witnessed several staffers from Sen. Capito’s office discourage and disregard constituents’ calls regarding support for the Freedom to Vote Act (comprise bill of the For The People’s Act). Both bills have been widely supported by the people of West Virginia; approximately 79% of West Virginias, yet Sen. Capito’s continues to oppose the Freedom to Vote Act. While canvassing a constituent, I witnessed the staffer from her office state that, “the bill was dead” and even inform the voter that they'd been directed to tell folks who were calling in support of the bill that there was nothing they could do. This is of course not true - the For The People Act was filibustered (which has upheld anti-lynching legislation and the Civil Rights legislation particularly between 1917 and 1994), but Senator Manchin was also actively working on the Freedom to Vote Act, and there is quite literally no chance that she was unaware of this. After witnessing this misinformation being spread by Capito’s staffers multiple times, I decided to call and inform her office about the current state of the bill. As a Black canvasser in West Virginia, this situation infuriated me. There have been several occasions where my intentions are questioned before I can even engage in a conversation about the bill, not to mention the validity of the bill since there have been a lot of false statements spread. I am very thankful that in this instance the constituent was willing to listen as I explained how this was a tactic from Sen. Capito to prevent folks from calling in to support the bill. Since the incident, the staffers seemed to have started doing their job(s) by ensuring callers that their messages in support of campaign finance and voting rights reform would be passed along to Senator Capito.

It’s one thing to disagree with a bill, but to spread misinformation to constituents and deter them from voicing their support and concerns with live legislation is a wildly inappropriate abuse of power. This speaks to the corruption in our government and is the reason to why our democracy is in such a fragile state. Redistricting for the next ten years has begun and this has been a tactic used by politicians to pick their voters (as opposed to us picking them). This tactic along with voter suppression and mass incarcerations continue to make it virtually impossible for Black, Indigenous, and people of color around the country to vote. Our politicians must be held accountable for their actions and by passing this bill it would be providing legislation to do so.

Senator Capito’s lack of support for the For The People Act & Freedom to Vote Act and her office’s lack of honesty with constituents about the bill’s viability, are just more evidence of why it must be passed. We must reduce the role of big money in politics and make it easier for disenfranchised people to vote so that we can bring integrity and accountability back into our politics. ~ Malik Quintod Smith

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Meet Malik: Hi, my name is Malik Smith, I am a West Virginia native from Institute, West Virginia, and currently finishing up my final semester of undergrad at Marshall University. I will be graduating this December with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering with a Minor in Sociology. After graduation I plan to gain some experience in environmental policy (sustainability, climate change, clean water, conservation, environmental justice/racism, etc.) and practice for the F.E. Engineering Exam before attending graduate school for a Master of Science degree in Sustainable Water Systems.

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