Protecting the Right to Vote is Essential to Combat the Climate Crisis

Equitable voting access for all Americans has a profound impact on the future of our country and our climate, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy stands firmly against any form of voter suppression.

SACE Staff and Stephen Smith | August 6, 2021 | Energy Justice

As American citizens, our right to cast our vote is fundamental. This right has been hard fought for – and achieved – by disenfranchised Americans since our nation’s founding, and we should not and cannot take lightly efforts to undermine this hard-won right. The landmark Voting Rights Act, signed into law on August 6, 1965, recognized voting as a fundamental right of citizenship and clearly outlawed discriminatory voting practices.

No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color. – Voting Rights Act of 1965

As American citizens, no matter where we come from, what we look like, or how much money is in our pocketbooks, we should be able to exercise this right with as few barriers as possible. Every American should have easy, convenient access and safe options for casting our vote. Concerted efforts attacking voting rights, like those we are seeing in numerous states now, that disproportionately impact people of color and under-resourced communities as compared to White communities, must therefore be challenged as we come together to ensure a minority of politicians do not take away our rights.

Expand – not limit – opportunities to allow all voices to be heard

Our central focus at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is to ensure people throughout the Southeast benefit from clean, safe, and affordable energy, and that these benefits are distributed equitably, regardless of race, gender, location, or socioeconomic status. In order for that to happen, all voters, no matter their circumstances or background, must have safe and easy access to the ballot so that their opinions are reflected in election results. Each and every American deserves an equal say in choosing elected officials who largely determine what policies are enacted and impact us for years to come. 

SACE’s primary organizational focus – advancing clean energy, electric transportation, and energy equity – relies on voting rights so that voters can elect officials who take the threat of climate change seriously and are prepared to lead us into the modern clean energy economy.  There is a long history of big-monied special interest groups setting their own policy agenda by attempting to buy political influence with lobbying and campaign contributions – a history that we can overcome by exercising our right to vote. Our ability to confront the climate crisis is therefore closely linked with the urgency of combatting attempts to undermine our democracy. To address the climate crisis, it is essential we protect our right to vote and expand – not limit – opportunities to allow all voices to be heard. We also recognize that voter rights are a pivotal component affecting efforts to make meaningful change on ANY issue. 

We, therefore, join with the many voices calling for a strong and swift response to stop current efforts by some politicians who are working to restrict access to voting, especially in communities of color, which all too often also face significantly higher burdens from fossil fuel pollution and unaffordable energy than White communities.

SACE opposes policies that prevent or make it harder for voters to cast ballots, including: 

  • Restricting early and absentee voting and ballot drop box locations
  • Limiting polling locations and hours in certain communities
  • Enacting discriminatory voter ID requirements

SACE supports accessible policies that help all Americans exercise the right to vote, including: 

  • Universal absentee voting
  • Expanded early voting dates and locations
  • More polling locations rather than less

Voting is an individual right inherent in U.S. citizenship and expressly protected by the U.S. Constitution. We must therefore fight efforts in states to make it harder for all people to exercise the foundation of our democracy. 

SACE Staff
My Profile