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Arkansans rally at state Capitol to protect voting rights

Lawmakers, religious leaders and activist groups rally to protect voter rights at the capitol (KATV){p}{/p}
Lawmakers, religious leaders and activist groups rally to protect voter rights at the capitol (KATV)

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Over 100 Arkansans rallied at the capitol Sunday to stand against 17 bills currently moving through the state legislature that they say are "anti-voter."

The group was led by speakers former State Rep. Steve Jones, Rev. Dr. Phillip Pointer, Rev. C. Dennis Edwards, Pastor Dr. Mark Deymaz, Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D - District 30, Senator Joyce Elliot, D-Little Rock, and Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth. It was comprised of local legislators, religious leaders and activists were all in attendance.

"The power of the people is the ballot," Edwards said.

The group is asking local businesses and corporate leaders to advocate for democracy, fairness and access to voting. They're calling on big names in the state to publicly pledge not to donate to lawmakers who supported Arkansas "anti-voter" bills, and urge them to issue a public statement denouncing legislation that makes it harder for their workers and business communities to vote.

"We need the Walmart’s and the Tyson’s and the Hunt's and the Stevens and all of the corporate giants in the state to say, 'enough is enough,'" Chesterfield said.

Demonstrators said 17 bills in the Arkansas legislature are anti-voter and take Arkansas backward. The bills are:

  1. SB12
  2. SB485
  3. SB486
  4. SB487
  5. SB498
  6. SB556
  7. SB557
  8. SB582
  9. SB614
  10. SB643
  11. SB644
  12. SB684
  13. HB1112/ACT 249
  14. HB1715
  15. SJR5
  16. HJR1005
  17. HJR1019

Leaders said they want everyone to register to vote and support federal standards for voting. They advocated for H.R.1, "For the People Act" and H.R.4, the "John Lewis Voting Rights Act."

H.R.1 is a democracy reform package that targets voter suppression, gerrymandering, money and politics, according to the group.

H.R.4 protects against racist voter suppression and strengthens the electoral system, according to the group.

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"Don’t come to the capitol just to make noise, suit up, put your shoes on, put your boots on and lets go to work and change this thing," Elliot said.

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