Having Our Say...Voting Rights

Our democracy is built on the idea that every citizen can participate in the electoral process and each ballot counts equally. However, barriers exist that prevent some Americans from voting, rendering our voices unequal.

We want to arrive at a democracy in which the voice of the people counts.  

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruling in Shelby Country vs. Holder struck down the key protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and  opened the door for the same discriminatory voter suppression laws Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement protested more than fifty years ago. These increasingly common barriers include restricting the types of identification and complicating the process required to register and obtain a ballot, making it harder for people with felony convictions to vote, and limiting early and absentee voting.  

  

We need strong protections at the local, state, and federal level of our government so it remains truly of, by, and for the people. Together, we can demand that our leaders respect the sacred trust we have placed in them and pass common-sense reforms to guarantee that every American has an equal voice in the political process. These reforms include provisions to modernize the voter registration process, such as online registration, portable registration, pre-registration, same-day registration, and automatic registration, as well as the restoration of voting rights for ex-offenders and expanded early and absentee voting. We already know that these reforms work; according to the Brennan Center, 17 states have legislation pending to follow Oregon’s landmark automatic voter registration system, and 48 states and the District of Columbia have moved forward with a measure to expand access to the ballot box. Leaders in these states recognize what millions of Americans understand: when some voices are kept out of the political process, we all miss out.

 

The DI Report: 2015 Year in Review

The DI Report

Happy Holidays!

As the final edition of the DI Report for the year, we would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the tremendous work of the entire Democracy Initiative network. This has been an exciting year as the DI organized our first mobilization, engaged in a winning campaign in Maine to restore fair elections, and completed our message and research project uniting voting rights and money in politics... Read More

Democracy Initiative Adopts Bold Action Plan for 2016

Press Release

Washington, DC – Last Wednesday, December 9th, 45 endorsing organizations of the Democracy Initiative (DI) adopted a four-part strategic action plan for 2016, calling for joint action in states; a major grassroots mobilization; a national education, communications, and outreach strategy; and continued efforts to strengthen the growing DI network. Collectively, we strive to build a 21st century democracy where the voice of every American is heard and counted with a government... Read More

The Democracy Initiative and Allies Celebrate Conclusion of America's Journey for Justice

Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, more than a thousand activists and advocates from as far away as Michigan and Texas, came together to celebrate the conclusion of America’s Journey for Justice. Organized by the NAACP and supported by member organizations of the Democracy Initiative, the 1,000-mile march from Selma, AL, to Washington, DC to demand voting rights centered on the message that our lives, our votes, our jobs, and our schools matter.

... Read More

The DI Report: Netroots Nation 2015

The DI Report

The Democracy Initiative just returned from Netroots Nation in hot and sunny Phoenix, Arizona where we presented a joint panel with Common Cause on felon re-enfranchisement, voting rights, money in politics, and the growing democracy movement. This was an amazing opportunity to showcase the work of the Democracy Initiative and our partners to build a... Read More

The DI Report: Democracy in Action: Rally in Roanoke!

The DI Report

Yesterday, on the 2nd anniversary of the Shelby County v. Holder decision which gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act, more than 500 hundred environmental, labor, and civil rights activists joined member organizations of the Democracy Initiative and the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, and journeyed to Elmwood Park in Roanoke, VA to rally for voting rights and an equal voice for all in our democracy. 

... Read More

Democracy Initiative Organizations and Allies Rally for Voting Rights in Virginia on 2nd Anniversary of Shelby v. Holder

Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, on the 2nd anniversary of the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision which gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act, hundreds of environmental, labor, and civil rights activists joined member organizations of the Democracy Initiative and the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, and journeyed to Elmwood Park in Roanoke, VA to rally for voting rights and an equal voice for... Read More

Democracy Initiative Members and Allies Express Disappointment After Maryland Gov. Hogan Vetoes Voter Re-Enfranchisement Bill

Press Release

Washington, DC – Last Friday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan vetoed an historic voting rights bill, SB 340, which would have restored the right to vote for nearly 40,000 previously incarcerated Marylanders. The legislation, passed through the Maryland General Assembly with overwhelming majorities, would have allowed individuals who had completed their incarceration to register to vote. Unfortunately, Governor Hogan failed to recognize the importance and potential impact of... Read More

The DI Report: Voting Rights Resources

The DI Report

Core to the Democracy Initiative’s mission is to defend and expand voting access nationally and in states. This special edition of the DI Report is meant to be an overview and resource on voting rights to which you can refer and use in your work. At our December convening, groups indicated that they wanted DI to act as a “Democracy Docent,” providing guidance for groups for which democracy has not been a primary focus. This newsletter is meant to fulfill that purpose and we expect to produce... Read More

Democracy Initiative Organizations Release Statements Supporting Passage of Historic Voter Re-Enfranchisement Bill in Maryland

Press Release

Washington, DC – Last Friday, the Maryland state legislature passed an historic voting rights bill, restoring the right to vote to nearly 40,000 previously incarcerated Marylanders. The bill, SB 340, simply allows individuals who have completed their incarceration to register to vote. Now awaiting the signature of Governor Larry Hogan who has yet to indicate his support, SB 340 not only gives citizens a voice at the ballot box it ensures their ability to invest in the... Read More

Democracy Initiative Organizations and Allies Release Statements Commending Oregon State Legislature’s Passage of New Motor Law

Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, members of the Democracy Initiative released statements supporting the passage of HB 2177, also known as the New Motor Voter. This bill, expected to be signed by Governor Kate Brown, makes voter registration simple and convenient for busy Oregon families, seniors and students by using data the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) currently collects to register eligible voters and update... Read More