Press Release

Welch Discusses Ramifications of Restrictive Voting Laws, Importance of Passing the Inclusive Democracy Act at Judiciary Committee Hearing

Mar 12, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned experts about how false claims disputing the validity of the 2020 presidential election results have impacted overall confidence in election integrity, and discussed the ramifications of recent restrictive voting laws. Senator Welch also highlighted the need to pass legislation that works to restore voting rights for marginalized people, such as the Inclusive Democracy Act, first-of-its-kind legislation introduced by Sen. Welch and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.-07) that would end felony disenfranchisement in federal elections and guarantee the right to vote for incarcerated citizens. 

“There’s a subtext here, and the subtext is: whether there’s going to be ongoing challenges, and there’s a certain person running for president right now who’s already talking about—still talking about —that as being ‘rigged’ and election integrity…includes getting rid of what has been a significant protection…since Shelby there have been numerous restrictive voting statutes passed in various states,” said Sen. Welch

Senator Welch also raised the issue of felony disenfranchisement. 

“I want to talk a little bit too about a slightly different topic: re-enfranchisement laws. Vermont actually, and Maine, are two states that allow felons to vote. Many states have laws that allow a person who has completed his or her sentence to vote. I think that’s important because I think voting is an action, a decision, but the process of voting is engagement, civic engagement,” said Sen. Welch. “Talking with your neighbors, talking with your friends about your point of view about how you can build community through civic action.” 

Watch the Senator’s full remarks here

Senator Welch has advocated for passage of voting rights legislation and support for election workers in the Senate. Last week, Senator Welch helped reintroduce the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to update and restore critical safeguards of the original Voting Rights Act. In March, Senator Welch helped introduce the Time Off From Work Act, which would make it easier for working people to access the ballot box by requiring employers to provide paid leave to employees requesting time off to vote in federal elections. 

In December, Senator Welch and Representative Pressley introduced the Inclusive Democracy Act, legislation that would end felony disenfranchisement in federal elections, including for the nearly two million individuals currently incarcerated in the United States. Vermont is one of only two states in the nation, besides Maine, that grants persons in prison the right to vote.  

Last year, Senator Welch called for continued support for election officials on the frontlines of our democracy and urged the Senate to pass comprehensive voting rights protection legislation, including the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Also last year, Senator Welch joined Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn). in introducing the Support our Election Workers Act and the Election Workers Protection Act, bills that will respond to growing threats of violence and intimidation that have driven many election workers from their post and created staffing shortages for roles that are essential for functioning of our democracy.