Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont spoke at a rally commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) on Aug. 6 where the presidential candidate slammed ‘political cowards’ who have failed to ensure everyone has the right to vote, The Hill reported.
"My job as a candidate is to get people to vote for me based on my ideas. My job is not to figure out a way to keep people whose views are different from mine from voting," Sanders told the crowd.
"And let me be very clear and say it in a non-partisan way: Anybody who is suppressing the vote, anybody who is intentionally trying to keep people from voting because the candidate knows that those people would vote against him or her, that person is a political coward.”
He added: "If you don't have the guts to run for office on your ideas, then you shouldn't run for office at all.”
Sanders recently introduced two pieces of legislation that are intended to protect the right to vote, PoliticusUSA reported. According to a statement from the Sanders’ office, one bill would “automatically register all eligible individuals to vote when they turn 18 years old.”
The other bill would establish Election Day as a national holiday. “We should be doing everything possible to make it easier for people to participate in the political process. Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote,” the statement read. “While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a vibrant democracy.”
Controversy over the right to vote has been simmering since the Supreme Court's 2013 decision to strip the VRA of a requirement that certain states get federal approval before changing election rules. Since that decision, several states have eliminated same-day registration, closed early voting windows and instituted voter ID laws.