Durbin: Young Voters Turned Out in Record Numbers to Keep Our Democracy Alive

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin reflected on the historic 2022 midterm election

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reflected on the recent 2022 midterm election results from across the country, which kept Senate Democrats in the majority. A record number of young voters turned out and voted to protect reproductive rights, address climate change, preserve our democracy, and much more.

Durbin began his speech by highlighting President Lincoln’s speech in 1862 in which he called on Congress to ensure the freedom of every American, including the nearly four million Black Americans living in bondage. Lincoln stated that this was the way to save American democracy. 

“Well, last Tuesday—160 years later—Americans across the country stood up, went to the polls, and did their part to save this ‘last, best hope of earth.’ They voted to protect our fundamental freedoms, and to preserve our democracy,” said Durbin.

Durbin highlighted University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign student Lauren, a first-time voter, who voted for candidates that support a woman’s right to choose. Lauren is one of the millions of Americans who were motivated to vote after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision earlier this year. Across the country, voters affirmed their support for access to reproductive care by rejecting anti-abortion ballot measures in Kentucky and Montana, and supporting pro-choice ballot measures in California, Michigan, and Vermont.  

Durbin continued, “Thankfully, Lauren wasn’t alone:  In this year’s election, young voters continued a trend that began in 2018 and 2020—they turned out in record numbers. They realize it is their responsibility of their generation to do a better job than our generation and to keep democracy alive. So I want to thank all of the young people, who were raised properly when it came to their civic duty, and voted for the first time last week. With their votes, they sent a message to us and the rest of America that was loud and clear: It’s time for the Big Lie to die.” 

Durbin condemned former President Donald Trump’s Big Lie, which cost every single election denier who ran for Secretary of State in a swing state their race.  He also called on his Republican colleagues to reject extremism. 

“So the takeaway here isn’t all that complicated, and I hope it’s one that our Republican colleagues take to heart: It’s time to reject that extremist lie,” said Durbin. “The American people are sick and tired of the false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.  The same claims that generated the insurrectionist mob to storm this Capitol on January 6, 2021, injuring over 149 law enforcement officials who were doing their duty to protect this building and the people in it and sadly leading to six deaths. Now the threats of violence continue. After the election, can we finally join together in a bipartisan fashion to condemn all forms of violence regardless of their political origin? It's inconsistent with a democracy we can be proud of. The American people are also sick and tired of right-wing assaults on our fundamental freedoms.”

Another key issue voters cited when heading to the polls is the state of the economy. In August, Congressional Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act, groundbreaking legislation that will make drug prices more affordable, reduce costs, and make the nation’s largest ever investment in combatting the climate crisis.

“The American people also recognize that this Senate Majority has made steady, meaningful progress in combatting inflation,” said Durbin. “These policies are popular. And we saw proof of that last Tuesday. The American people re-elected a Democratic Majority to the Senate because they support the work we’ve been doing.”

During the lame duck session, Durbin highlighted the need to work together in a bipartisan way to keep our government funded, address the debt ceiling, and confirm highly-qualified, even-handed judges who will bring diversity to the federal bench. Durbin also called on his colleagues to work together to reform our broken immigration system, starting with protections for Dreamers.

Durbin concluded, “We have an opportunity to build on the Senate's proud record of accomplishments, starting this week. Listen to what the American people told us. They told us roll up our sleeves, ignore the Big Lie and do something together… Millions of voters turned out last week, and they challenged us in the Senate, they challenged us to continue making real, meaningful progress for working families in this country. Let’s show them we can get it done.”

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.