Senators Scott and Graham urged to protect voting rights

·5 min read

Protecting voting rights protects our democracy

The For The People Act, also known as HR1 and S1, will improve our democracy by making our election system more free, fair, and accessible to all Americans. This legislation will restore the Voting Rights Act, provide automatic voter registration and same day registration, eliminate dark money in our elections, end gerrymandering, and restore transparency in our government. The League of Women Voters of the Columbia Area joins with organizations and businesses around the country in our enthusiastic support of the For The People Act.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the For The People Act in early March. The League of Women Voters of the Columbia Area now calls upon our senators to support this transformative bill. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Tim Scott must show their dedication to the freedom to vote. They must vote in favor of the For The People Act.

The legislation enshrines into law what all Americans know: that everyone deserves an equal voice in our democracy. The For The People Act is a huge step forward for democracy, one that the League of Women Voters strongly supports.

- Dr. Lady June Cole President, League of women Voters of the Columbia Area

Murder trial painful to watch

I have watched the Samantha Josephson trial closely over the past week, along with countless other South Carolinians.

My heart breaks for her family and I am outraged that such a terrible act of murder happened in the city of Columbia. I was infuriated to watch Nathaniel Rowland talk and laugh with his family numerous times in court during breaks. At times, he was not even handcuffed. I realize that he was innocent until proven guilty, therefore was innocent during the trial. However, he was undeniably involved in her murder, and that was made abundantly clear from the beginning.

I was sickened to see him reuniting with his mom and brother and joking and laughing multiple times, while the Josephson family was in the same room. In contrast, the Josephson’s were clutching one another for support, and broke down in tears many times.

I have never seen a defendant be able to mingle with those attending a trial. This was gut wrenching and uncalled for. The Josephson family demonstrated unbelievable dignity and grace during undoubtedly some of the hardest moments of their lives, despite courtroom officers making the moments even harder by allowing Rowland these privileges.

- Heather Blackwell, West Columbia

Vaccines offer protection

Too many Americans are thrilled to divide themselves into cozy subsets. It’s not just a question of left v. right, red states/blue states or capitalists v. socialists. Our population is now self-segregated into multiple racial and ethnic pods, straight v. gay sexual identities, right on down to transgender and cisgender subgroups. Even the Democratic and Republican parties are currently showing signs of internal ideological fracture.

One might think that an overwhelming issue like public health and safety would be sufficient to unite our citizens to fight against a common threat like a virulent plague, but that is clearly not happening. As was the case with mask wearing in 2020, the issue of vaccination has been polarized this year into two warring political camps.

Mercifully, medical science has developed a number of vaccines that have proved to be effective in preventing or mitigating the effects of both COVID and the delta variant. Millions of Americans have already availed themselves of this opportunity to beat the virus. But not all, sadly.

Urged on by a certain disgraced former president who declines to exit the political stage, many of his most ardent followers refuse to receive vaccination on the grounds of exercising a personal freedom of choice. Unfortunately, their definition of “freedom” is an extremely narrow one.

There is no absolute freedom in any civilized society; citizens agree to surrender certain small liberties for the greater good of public health and safety. Civilized people are not free to ignore traffic signals or stop signs; we respect each other’s “personal space” in order to avoid needless physical confrontation and injury. Asking people to agree to an inoculation to slow or prevent a pandemic from wiping out large portions of our population is not an unreasonable request.

Regrettably, Americans have already segregated themselves into two medical camps: the Vaccinated and the Slow Learners. All I ask is that the Slow Learners bite the bullet and get the vaccine. Failing that, they should lock themselves at home and remain there until the coast is clear.

- Ed Aylward, Columbia

Defeating virus requires community effort

Based on Lexington-Richland 5’s decision not to require or even encourage COVID-19 vaccine compliance, it is my very real concern that political considerations are being weighed over public health concerns and the protection of our faculty and students. I question the inability to even recommend a vaccine that has been proven to be effective and is likely our last barrier of defense against future variants of a virus that has already killed over 9,000 people in our state.

Meanwhile, Richland 2 is able to offer vaccine clinics to their students and faculty. They are giving clear messaging and guidance to those who need it. Is there a reason we cannot do the same?

I stand with other parents who are concerned regarding our district’s current messaging on a public health threat that will continue to challenge us as parents, teachers, and students of this district. Please do not let politics lead us further down a path of poor risk management and decision-making. Let us follow the likes of Richland 2 and put our money where our mouth is. Make vaccine compliance an attainable goal so we can defeat this virus together as a community.

- Sarah Habersberger, Columbia

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