Voting Rights and Climate Policy — Not as Odd a Couple as You Might Think

Joel B. Stronberg
6 min readJun 24, 2021

Some things just seem to go together — Bogey and Bacall — for example. There are other things — voting rights legislation and the future of national climate policy — not so much.

It is critical for the climate community to follow closely the federal voting rights law passed by the House and now being considered by the Senate. HR 1/S 1, the For the People Act of 2021 (Act), could prove as pivotal to the future of national climate policy as infrastructure legislation or other accommo-dative climate measures enacted by the 117th Congress and signed into law by President Biden.

Why voting rights?

There two places where voting rights legislation impacts climate policy. The first place is at the state level. As reported by the Brennan Center, 14 states have already enacted 22 new laws restricting access to the vote. (See Figure 1) According to the Center, 61 bills with restrictive provisions are moving through the 18 legislatures still in session. More specifically:

…31 [bills] have passed at least one chamber, while another 30 have had some sort of committee action (e.g., a hearing, an amendment, or a committee vote). Overall, lawmakers have introduced at least 389 restrictive bills in 48 states in the 2021 legislative sessions.

The reason so many voter-restriction bills have been proposed and acted upon is — in large measure — to give “meaning” to former President Trump’s lie that he won the 2020 election. It is a delusory claim that failed to convince any court — including the newly conservative US Supreme Court — ruling in the 60 lawsuits brought by Trump and his allies to invalidate the November presidential election.

With the conclusion of the decennial census, state legislatures will begin redrawing the boundary lines of electoral districts, i.e., those for Congress and the state legislatures themselves. Of the 50 states, 38 are considered trifectas. A trifecta is when a single political party controls the governor’s office and both chambers of the state legislature.

Joel B. Stronberg

Stronberg is a thought leader in the climate community with over 40 years of experience covering environmental and sustainability issues as a freelancer.