Read a PDF of our statement here.

This month, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) submitted written testimony to the United States House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol detailing the relentless campaign to weaken our democracy and the steps Congress must take to protect it.

“It is not hyperbole to say that the fate of American democracy hangs in the balance. Black and Brown Americans face the greatest assault on our voting rights since the Jim Crow Black Codes rolled back the progress made during Reconstruction,” wrote LDF’s President and Director-Counsel, Janai S. Nelson, in the testimony to the Committee. “Indeed, the threat of our democracy breaking apart at the seams and sliding irreversibly into authoritarianism has not been as acute since the Civil War.

“The great question before us is whether we will embrace a truly inclusive, multiracial democracy or entrench a racial hierarchy of white supremacy that has beleaguered our democracy since its inception.”

Nelson goes on to highlight multiple Congressional actions that would protect the right to vote and fight election subversion. They are:

  • Restore the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance protections through updated coverage parameters.
  • Restore and strengthen Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, giving litigators across the country more powerful tools to push back on discrimination.
  • Provide a broad set of minimum standards for ballot accessibility for federal elections such that the ability to exercise your right to vote is not dependent upon which state you live in.
  • Create a new federal statutory claim against undue burdens on the right to vote.
  • Outlaw partisan gerrymandering for congressional districts.
  • Enact explicit new protections for election workers and election infrastructure, as well as a provision that prevents partisan bodies, such as state legislatures, from removing state and local election officials without due cause.
  • Update the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to fix the vague and outdated vote counting and election certification processes that provided an opening for bad-faith actors to attempt to subvert the will of the people by manipulating election results.

“Historians will study the period between 2020 and 2025 for decades to come, seeking to explain the next century of American life,” Nelson wrote. “They will ask the question: ‘Did we act when we had the chance, or did we squander our last, best hope to protect the freedom to vote and save our democracy?’

“January 6 was not an isolated incident, but rather the unfortunate consequence of powerful interests fomenting a backlash to the 2020 elections. Those interests are determined to block the emergence of an inclusive, multiracial democracy by erecting barriers to the ballot and by dismantling the non-partisan election infrastructure. Securing and protecting the freedom to vote and the integrity of our elections is essential to maintaining our still nascent democracy. Congress must act swiftly to do so before our democracy is unrecognizable — if it exists at all.”

Read LDF’s full testimony here.


Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.