To mark the one-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and demand free and fair elections, more than 200 grassroots-organized candlelit vigils are planned for Thursday in cities and towns across the United States.
The vigils will be held in nearly every state in the country, with some gatherings including voter registration drives and voter outreach events to counteract what organizers say is an effort by "the same faction that attacked our country on January 6" to restrict voting rights and attack fair voting districts all while "quietly preparing future attempts to sabotage free and fair elections and with [them] our democracy."
"This January 6, exactly one year later, Americans across race, place, party, and background are holding candlelight vigils to say: In America, the voters decide the outcome of elections," said organizers.
The vigils will be held a year after thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump, at his urging, descended on the U.S. Capitol while lawmakers were certifying President Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election. One Capitol Police officer died after being beaten by rioters and four participants in the attack died as the chaos unfolded, including one who was shot and killed by police.
"January 6 was a violent and deadly attack against all Americansagainst our country, our democracy, and our freedom as voters to choose the leaders that represent us so that we have a government of, by, and for the people," organizers said.
"To prevent this kind of attack from happening again, our elected leaders must pass urgent legislation that will protect this country from anti-democratic forces who are continuing their efforts to destroy it."
People attending the vigils will call on elected officials to pass voting rights legislation including the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which would require an elimination of the legislative filibuster to pass in the U.S. Senate. The former bill would make Election Day a federal holiday, ban partisan gerrymandering, and establish an automatic voter registration system while the latter would restore anti-discrimination protections to the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Since last January 6, when the right-wing mob breached the Capitol in the name of Trump's "Big Lie" that he was the legitimate winner of the 2020 election, Republican-led state legislatures have passed more voting restrictions than in any year in the past decades, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
The laws include restrictions to the use of mail-in ballots, which Trump claimed was a fraudulent tactic even before the election took place despite voting by mail himself, and the criminalization of "ordinary, lawful behavior by election officials" who try to assist voters.
Pro-Trump lawmakers have also pushed to appoint the former president's loyalists to election boards, voting inspector positions, and other key positions ahead of the 2022 and 2024 elections.
"The same extremist politicians who incited the attack have tried to block the investigation into the violence, state legislators have passed one anti-voter bill after another, local election officials have faced death threats, and the potential for future election sabotage has only grown," said Mainers for Accountable Leadership, which is organizing a vigil in Portland, Maine.
"The promise of democracy is not a partisan issue but a calling that unites us as Americans," the group added. "To prevent this kind of attack from happening again, our elected leaders must pass urgent legislation that will protect this country from anti-democratic forces who are continuing their efforts to destroy it."