Welcome to the first DI Report of the new year, it has been a busy and productive time! Since our last edition, the Democracy Initiative brought together 220 leaders of DI organizations and other groups in our largest and most dynamic annual Convening to date last December. Building off of the priorities set at the Convening, we have launched a comprehensive and coordinated planning process to set priorities and plans for 2015 and 2016 and helped organize a national day of action around the... Read More
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.