May 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Voting rights group using John Lewis speech in new ad

The late Rep. John Lewis is seen speaking during the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Rep. John Lewis speaks during the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

The late Rep. John Lewis is the voice behind a new ad campaign pushing senators to support a comprehensive federal voting rights bill that backers say is needed to counter the efforts by Republicans to curb voter access in many states.

Driving the news: Just Democracy, a left-leaning civil rights group, is launching the "Your Vote Is Precious" ad as the Senate Rules Committee prepares to consider the For the People Act during a hearing Tuesday focused on what legislation will go to the Senate floor. The House passed its version of the bill in March.

  • The $500,000 ad buy also is aimed at answering Americans for Prosperity's recently placed ads advocating for keeping the filibuster.

Details: The ad, scheduled to run in Arizona, Georgia and the nation's capital starting Wednesday, features sound and video of Lewis.

The Democrat, civil rights icon and former Georgia congressman — who died last July — is heard speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, and shown standing at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965.

  • "Your vote is precious, almost sacred," Lewis begins.
  • Video and sound of several Black Americans reciting the congressman's words about Republicans seeking to limit voting are set over Lewis' own voice.
  • The legislation would allow mail voting, universal same-day voting registration and automatic registration for Americans ages 18 and up, while prohibiting the purging of voter rolls.

The big picture: Just Democracy isn't the only organization to use Lewis' words and voice posthumously to galvanize activists.

  • Last September, the Democratic National Committee released a digital ad using the same Lewis speech as part of a push to register voters in competitive battlegrounds ahead of the 2020 general election.
  • "This is just the beginning of Just Democracy's push on voting rights and the broken Senate this summer," said coalition member Stephany Spaulding.
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