Comment: Work remains to bolster democracy after Jan. 6 attack

More safeguards are in place since 2021’s antidemocratic riots, but voting rights can be strengthened.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., represents the 2nd Congressional District.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., represents the 2nd Congressional District.

By Rick Larsen / For The Herald

On Jan. 6, 2021, I was in my office in Congress’ Rayburn House Office Building as violent domestic terrorists stormed the U.S. Capitol building across the street. Like you, I could only watch in disgust as these terrorists attacked law enforcement, vandalized the Capitol, and threatened the exercise of our democracy and the peaceful transfer of power.

Democracy bent but did not break on Jan. 6. I never doubted the outcome of that day: Congress would affirm the election of President Biden and Vice President Harris.

Three years later, progress has been made to hold accountable those responsible for the attack, protect our democracy and restore trust in government. In December 2022, the bipartisan January 6th Committee completed its thorough investigation and filed a report that establishes a clear historical record and contains several legislative recommendations to prevent another deadly attack. In December 2022, Congress enacted the bipartisan Electoral Count Reform Act to close loopholes in how presidential elections are conducted. And since Jan. 6, more than 1,230 people have been charged with federal crimes and more than 450 people have been convicted and sent to jail or prison for their role in the attack.

However, Congress must do more to improve elections and strengthen democracy. The American people overwhelmingly support legislation such as the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act that clean up elections, protect the right to vote and guarantee every American’s voice is heard at the ballot box. I am also working with Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas, to pass the America Votes Act, a commonsense bill modeled on a successful Washington state law that allows voters to affirm their identity by submitting a similar written statement along with their mail-in ballot.

Jan. 6 is not a day to agonize. It is a day to remember, organize and move forward. On the third anniversary of the attack, join me in remembering the five officers who lost their lives defending our democracy and the Capitol. Join me in honoring the more than 140 officers who were physically injured and the many more who still bear the burden of that horrible day. And join me in organizing for voting rights to move our country forward and prevent another Jan. 6 from ever happening again.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, represents Washington’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes Everett and parts of Snohomish County, as well as all of Skagit, Whatcom, Island and San Juan counties.

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