Close to 150 people attended a Bans Off Our Bodies/Get Out the Vote (GOTV) rally hosted by the Bucks County Democratic Committee and their partners All In Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee, Bucks Indivisible, and Turn PA Blue Wednesday evening at the Old Courthouse in Doylestown.
Speakers included Democratic Congressional candidate for Pennsylvania’s first district Ashley Ehasz, State Senator Steve Santarsiero, Bucks County Commissioner Bob Harvie, State Representative and House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Dr. Val Arkoosh, and Turn PA Blue Executive Director Jamie Perrapato.
Women’s rights are on the ballot in local, state, and federal elections and this has underscored the significance of the November election and the importance of staying engaged in politics after voting.
“I have heard from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who are terrified of what may come next in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision. This is an overwhelmingly pro-choice community, and I believe that people are incredibly motivated to protect the right to privacy and the right to choose when to start a family,” said Democratic Congressional candidate Ashley Ehasz.
“I am proud to stand with my constituents in PA-01 as the only pro-choice candidate in this race, and help get out the vote to protect our freedoms,” she said.
Ehasz will face off against Republican incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick who has repeatedly voted against a woman’s right to choose and to defund Planned Parenthood.
The threat of PA Senate Bill 106, passed by the GOP controlled legislature just prior to the summer recess, has the potential to create a referendum that would likely appear on the May 2023 ballot and determine the legality and availability of abortion in Pennsylvania.
Should Pennsylvanians vote to outlaw abortion in the low-turnout May primary, as Republicans want, the state constitution will be amended to reflect that choice.
“Indivisible Bucks County is committed to helping the Democratic slate of candidates, partly because they are the only candidates who are committed to protecting abortion rights and reproductive freedom for all,” said Kierstyn Zolfo, a member of the Indivisible Bucks steering committee.
Postcards provided by Indivisible Bucks to support Ehasz and help GOTV were offered to rally attendees to add personalized messages that will be sent to voters.
“Our organization’s focus is on federal elections, so we are putting our efforts towards ensuring that all Bucks County voters understand that Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick is an anti-choice extremist,” Zolfo added.
Flipping Fitzpatrick’s seat while holding on to the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, along with increasing Democrats in the Senate, is an imperative for those who support a woman’s right to choose in light of Senator Lindsey Graham’s recent announcement to introduce and pass a nationwide abortion ban.
“Our fight for democracy isn’t over in November. We’re going to have to fight these (Pennsylvania) constitutional amendments and protect our school boards and I think it’s doable,” said Jamie Perrapato of Turn PA Blue.
Turn PA Blue supplied rally goers with QR codes containing useful information to help motivate more people to cast ballots.
“I think Bucks County is truly purple,” Perrapato said, “and you’re fighting for every vote. We need everyone showing up. We have people who are going to be talking to friends and neighbors as well as posting content on social media and reminding people to vote.”
Data from the May 2022 Pennsylvania primary showed registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans in the state. Since the Dobbs decision, an uptick in voter registration for both parties, nationwide, coupled with the recent pro-choice victory in Kansas, suggests potentially positive results for Democrats in the midterm election.
“Across America, there is a vocal minority of people who are desperate to turn back the clock on women’s rights and many other basic rights,” Commissioner Bob Harvey said. “For those that value reproductive freedoms, we must fight hard to preserve the rights for which so many fought so hard.”
The number of people casting ballots in primary races across the country has climbed significantly. Traditionally, midterm elections have a low voter turnout, but this year is different and Democrats are gearing up for a win.
“Now, more than ever, it’s important that we speak out for women’s reproductive freedom,” said State Senator and Bucks County Democratic Committee Chair Steve Santarsiero. “I am proud to stand with my friends to do just that.”
As the midterms approach a push to engage volunteers to knock doors, register people to vote or communicate with voters by text or telephone banking is underway.
House Minority Leader and State Representative Joanna McClinton energized the crowd.
“It is appalling that girls born since June are born with fewer rights than their mothers, that women could lose access to life-saving health care, and that a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body is at risk,” McClinton said.
She noted that a majority of Pennsylvanians don’t agree with the gerrymandered Republican majority in Harrisburg who are catering to their “extremist base” with their nonstop efforts to subjugate women by stripping them of their bodily autonomy.
“I’m fired up, and will not stop fighting for our girls, sisters and mothers, for our health care providers and to defend our rights,” McClinton said. “Every Pennsylvanian has a voice and needs to ensure that voice is heard this November and on every election day.”
Help is always needed at the polls on election day and workers get paid. To learn more about working on election day, visit the Bucks County Board of Elections.
Poll watchers are also needed to ensure the integrity of casting in person ballots. A training session is scheduled by All In PA Voter Protection on October 12 from 6 to 8p.m. at Doylestown Borough Hall. Virtual training is also available. Sign up here.
Are you registered to vote? To register to vote, check your registration, request a vote-by-mail or absentee ballot, click here.