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‘It is worth risking arrest to free the vote’: Former Anne Arundel County councilman arrested during protest in D.C.

Daryl Jones, a former Anne Arundel County councilman, was arrested Thursday during a protest in Washington, D.C., supporting election overhaul legislation.

Jones, a Democrat who lives in Severn, said over 50 people gathered at the Supreme Court and marched to the Senate building to protest the stalling of HR 1, also known as “The For the People Act.” Ten people, including Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat from Georgia, were arrested at the entrance of the Senate, according to Jones.

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The 791-page bill, written by Rep. John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat, focuses on campaign finance and election reform. It would touch almost every aspect of the electoral process — striking down hurdles to voting erected in the name of election security, curbing partisan gerrymandering and curtailing the influence of big money in politics.

“Millions of Americans are rallying behind our critical effort to protect the freedom to vote and to fight corruption in Washington. Our transformative endeavor benefits immensely from community leaders in Anne Arundel County and across Maryland. Time is of the essence. Inaction is not an option. We’ve got to get this done,” Sarbanes said in a statement.

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The bill passed the House but was blocked by Republicans in the Senate, according to The Associated Press.

Jones didn’t move when directed by Capitol police, he said, “because you can’t be moved off what is right and that is what this is about. We are standing for what is right and fair. It is worth risking arrest to free the vote.”

“We were protesting all the voter suppression legislation that has been passed around the country,” Jones added. “We want the passing of the For the People Bill and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the ending of the filibuster.”

Jones said he is so supportive of HR 1 because “no one’s right to vote should be diluted and that is what’s happening right now.”

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State lawmakers have proposed more than 250 bills that make it harder to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which promotes wider ballot access. Several Republican-controlled states, including Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Florida and Montana, have recently enacted laws that add restrictions, such as limiting access to drop boxes for mail ballots or cutting early voting hours. On Tuesday, Arizona enacted a law that requires regular purges of its mail voting list, according to The Associated Press.

“They are suppressing people’s vote. In Georgia, they were removing people from voter rolls and in Texas. In Arizona, they have one of the most messed up polling systems in the country,” Jones added. “All of this would be addressed if these two bills passed.”

Some states, largely Democratic-controlled ones, have also expanded voting; so has Oklahoma, which added a day of in-person early voting in legislation signed Tuesday.

The Republican push is spurred by former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. It’s a claim now widely embraced, despite all evidence to contrary, by many in his party. State election officials across the country and judges of both parties found no evidence to support Trump’s assertions, but Republican lawmakers argue that the new, tighter rules are needed to restore confidence in the election system, according to The Associated Press.

On Thursday, Republican political candidates in Anne Arundel and Annapolis filed a lawsuit against the city over its vote-by-mail plan for its upcoming primary and general election.

HR 1 would make voting rights and accessibility the same in every state. Jones wants a standardized methodology for the right and accessibility to voting.

“This bill has a direct impact on seniors, young Black and brown voters,” he said. “You don’t have to agree with how a person is going to vote but don’t stop that person from voting or make it more difficult for them.”

Jones is heading to Arizona on Sunday to protest again, he said.

“This is a people movement and I will be there shoulder-to-shoulder. Their fair access to the voter box is what’s important to me,” Jones said.

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