These Youth Activists Are Hunger Striking for Voting Rights, Again

“We hope that our hunger strike will grow so big that it can’t be ignored.”

Un-PAC members during their December hunger strikeAiden Duffy/Un-PAC

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

A group of youth activists did not eat for 15 days last month to get Congress to push voting rights reform to the top of its agenda. Now, they’re forgoing food once again in a last-ditch effort pressure the Senate to enact rules reform and pass the Freedom to Vote Act with a simple majority by January 17, Martin L. King, Jr. Day.

As I wrote last month:

The bill, an updated version of the For the People Act, would institute automatic and Election Day voter registration, make Election Day a federal holiday, and ban partisan gerrymandering, among other measures. It is a centerpiece of the Democratic agenda, but it has been stalled by Senate rules that effectively require a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation.

I know what you’re thinking. If the bill has no realistic chance of passing—thanks to opposition to Senate rules reform from Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va,), and others—what’s the point in striking?

“It’s a desperate moment that we’re in, for sure,” said Shana Gallagher, co-founder and executive director of Un-PAC, the group leading the strike. “If that doesn’t work, then we hope that our hunger strike will grow so big that it can’t be ignored.”

The organization has already joined forces with a group of faith leaders and doubled its ranks of DC hunger strikers from 20 to 40. Gallagher said that more than 150 people from across the country joined a virtual organizing call last night—many of them inspired by TikTok—and that more than 100 have signed up to take part in the strike in D.C. if the vote fails. 

“We’re not going to let this campaign fade into the night,” Gallagher said. “We really feel that this is an existential moment, so we are committed to continuing to strike until the bill passes.”

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate