Press Release

ICYMI: Salon: GOP’s vote suppression “fraud”: Why voting rights leaders are ready for a showdown today

Members of nonpartisan Democracy Initiative tell Salon how they're prepping to stop shenanigans today at the polls
Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Washington, DC – Today, Elias Isquith published an interview for Salon with Allegra Chapman, Common Cause’s Director of Voting and Elections, and Greg Moore, NAACP National Voter Fund Executive Director and Democracy Initiative Senior Strategist, discussing the non-partisan poll monitoring efforts across the country. For 50 years, the Voting Rights Act has stood as a bulwark against efforts to limit voting, but in the aftermath of Shelby County v. Holder, key sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act have left many communities vulnerable to discriminatory voting rules and legislation.

Partnering with Common Cause, NAACP, and the State Voices network who coordinated the on-the-ground operations in conjunction with the Election Protection coalition, the Democracy Initiative helped recruit volunteers from the membership and activist pools of CWA, the NAACP, National LGBTQ Task Force, Public Citizen, and the Sierra Club. Volunteers were recruited from localities that were likely to face problems at the polls and observed polling locations for instances of intimidation, disenfranchisement, and other abnormalities. Any observed problems were reported to the Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE).

Click here to read the entire piece and see below for excerpts from the interview:

Elias Isquith (EI): So what is the Democracy Initiative? What are you guys doing out there?

Allegra Chapman (AC): We’ve been doing election protection work for years now. It’s a program that we have in … about 18 different states across the country. Essentially, what we’re out there to do is to provide voters with accurate information as they’re going to the polls.

So, we’ll have poll monitors dispatched to a number of different places — especially ones that maybe are traditionally underserved, places with high concentrations of black and Latino populations — just to ensure that people have the right information, that polls are being conducted appropriately. As individuals are leaving their polling places, we have our monitors talking with them. Our monitors are all wearing these election protection T-shirts or buttons, which show that it’s a nonpartisan effort in order to educate voters and to provide them with the right information, so they’re very easily identifiable out there.

The idea really is to make sure voters know what they need. Especially, now in a number of states where there are these voter ID requirements, we can provide voters with the right information … Of course, we’re going to be in a number of other states, too, that don’t have photo ID laws in place but where it’s just as crucial to give people the right information and to also ensure that there isn’t any worrisome activity that’s happening at any polling place.

Greg Moore (GM):  The important piece of this is that we’re trying to fight for freedom for our elections — all across the country, not just in the states where we’ve had problems, but everywhere. So this on-the-ground citizens’ poll-monitoring program sort of gets to that.

We had a Supreme Court decision last year, Shelby v. Holder, where a big section of the Voting Rights Act, Section 4, was basically gutted. It actually wiped out Sections 4 and 5, in order for us to have a pre-clearance review of many of these statutes that Allegra just referenced. In some points we were able to get these statutes stopped before they were actually implemented, so without Section 5 we are in a situation where these bills are becoming laws, and we’re in a situation where we can’t stop these bills from actually having the damage that they would have in this current election.

The next best thing we can do is to have poll monitors out there looking, observing, following the procedures of what’s happening on Election Day, so that we can basically build a public record of what actually happened in this, the first election since 1966 without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. So these poll monitors are going to be playing a very key role in helping us document the problems that voters will be experiencing.

AC: The number that we have been putting out there for voters to call if they do have a problem on Election Day is 1-866-OUR-VOTE. There are also two other numbers that provide interpretation services; there’s one in Spanish, and it’s 1-888-VEY-VOTA; and then the third is for Asian languages, and it’s 1-888-API-VOTE.

The piece continues:

EI: Now, I understand the work on Election Day — the monitoring, informational assistance and so forth — but when it comes to dealing with these voter ID laws, isn’t it the case that, for a lot of people, it’s already going to be too late to do anything about it, since getting the proper ID not only requires paying fees but also filling out and processing paperwork?

AC: You’re right on that. The laws are in place right now. As it stands in some place … there just is going to be that requirement, that people produce photo ID in order to vote … So when it comes to places like [that], what we and the other members of the coalition have been doing is educating people, from before the early voting period through the early voting period, as to exactly what they need.

This is a problem that we are going to have to continue to work on going forward. It is what it is right now. We know these photo ID laws to be a solution in search of a problem that just doesn’t exist. As Judge Posner argued in a recent dissent, it’s really a fraud being perpetrated by legislators who are trying to manipulate the system to their advantage.

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The Democracy Initiative (DI) is a coalition of 51 civil rights, environmental, labor, and civic organizations formed to restore the core principles democracy and political equality. Originally formed in 2012, the DI represents more than 30 million members nationwide.

Democracy Initiative Partners and Allies Release Statements Supporting Passage of Fair Elections in Montgomery County, MD

Landmark public finance legislation provides candidates matching funds for small donors
Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Washington, DC – This afternoon, Montgomery County Council passed Bill 16-14, a landmark fair elections law empowering small donors. Specifically, the bill allows candidates to raise low-dollar donations from individuals in their district to qualify for matching funds. Once a candidate meets the threshold to qualify, donations of $150 or less are matched with public funds, with smaller donations receiving a higher match. In exchange, candidates agree to turn down large donations from special interests. 

Montgomery County is Maryland’s most populous county, home to more than 1 million residents according to a 2013 estimate. The bill’s passage is a major victory for fair elections advocates and is the first passed by a local government in Maryland since the state legislature allowed them in 2012.

Continue reading for statements highlighting the importance of this law from Democracy Initiative partners and to learn more, visit www.fairelectionsmaryland.org.

 

From Jos Williams, AFL-CIO Metro Washington Council President:

“This bill would put ordinary folks back in charge of elections, and put Montgomery County at the forefront of the fight against big money influence. This legislation would enhance the role of small donors and reduce the impact of big money. We hope to see cities, counties, and states follow their lead across the country, giving Americans an equal voice in the democratic process.” 

From Nan Aron, Alliance for Justice President:

“We congratulate Montgomery County for taking a bold step toward making county elections accessible to all—not just those with means.  With this legislation the county increases the participation of all citizens in our democracy and allows any candidate with broad public support a fair chance to take her or his case to the people.”

From Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Common Cause Maryland Executive Director:

“Voters expect public officials to make decisions that advance the public interest. But the hard truth is that special interests too often get special attention from candidates and officeholders.

“Voluntary small donor, public financing systems like the one before the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday put big ideas, not big money, at the center of our elections and make it possible for people of modest means and lacking connections to established power structures to run and win elections. We are thrilled that Montgomery County is leading Maryland forward by adopting this important reform.”

From the Communications Workers of America (CWA):

“The Communications Workers of America commends the Montgomery County, Md., Council for moving forward on efforts to establish public financing of elections for County Council and Executive. It’s a first step toward getting big money out of politics and increasing the engagement of citizens at every level of our elections.

“By moving toward a system of matching funds, Montgomery County is encouraging more participation in our democracy, by both voters and by potential candidates. The end result of this process will be to get big money out and get voters back in. That’s exactly the kind of reform our democracy needs.” 

From Heather McGhee, Demos President:

“Dēmos applauds the Montgomery County City Council for the passage of Bill 16-14, which enacts a publicly financed election system. Montgomery County will join a growing number of municipalities and states that are leading the charge to ensure that everyone has an equal say in our democracy.

“As corporations and the donor class wield outsized influence through political spending and civic participation advantages, elected officials are turning away from the economic policies that benefit working families. The impact of public financing of elections, as we have seen in places like Connecticut, is that candidates and elected officials alike will become more responsive to the voting public, citizens will become more vested in the outcomes of elections, and ultimately, governance that reflects the partnership between elected officials and constituents will flourish.”

For the complete release, click here.

​From Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive Director:

“As we saw in this year’s primary elections, county council elections are requiring more and more money to be successful. The proposed Fair Elections bill in Montgomery County will help to restore the influence of voters in local elections. By providing public matching funds for small donations, and getting candidates to agree to not take big money contributions from rich interests, this law will go a long way in providing the rebalancing we need in our politics.”

From Anita Neal Powell, Montgomery County NAACP President, MD Branch 7022:

“In joining the leadership of the NAACP National Office and our partners in the Democracy Initiative, we believe that Montgomery County, in passing this legislation, will become a leader in the fight against big money influence and has put ordinary folks back in charge of elections. This Bill is a victory for democracy and restores public confidence in the election process, allowing candidates to spend less time talking to wealthy individuals and special interests and more time listening to all of their potential constituents.”

From People for the American Way:

“Legislators across the country should take note of what’s happening in Montgomery County. Polling consistently shows that the overwhelming majority of voters want to see elected officials work to lessen big money’s impact on our elections. In other words, Americans understand the problem but are hungry for solutions. Along with long-term fixes like pushing to amend the Constitution to overturn decisions like Citizens United, small donor public financing can be a way to put everyday Americans’ voices at the center of our political process, where they belong.”

For the complete release, click here.

From Nick Nyhart, Public Campaign President and CEO:

“Today, the Montgomery County Council stood up to big money politics. Their vote to raise up the voices of everyday people in politics is part of a growing movement of millions of Americans fighting for a democracy that’s truly of, by, and for the people.”

From Craig Holman, Public Citizen Government Affairs Lobbyist:

“Montgomery County is about to show us how to conduct fair and clean campaigns, despite the recent setbacks in campaign finance reform imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court. In fact, it is because of the new flood of unregulated money in elections stemming from the court’s decisions to allow unlimited corporate campaign spending and unlimited total contributions from wealthy individuals that makes the Montgomery County public financing proposal so necessary.”

For the complete release, click here. 

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The Democracy Initiative (DI) is a coalition of 51 civil rights, environmental, labor, and civic organizations formed to restore the core principles democracy and political equality. Originally formed in 2012, the DI represents more than 30 million members nationwide.

Democracy Initiative Partners and Allies Release Statements Following  Senate Vote on Democracy for All Amendment

Amendment galvanizes coalition fighting to overturn Citizens United
Thursday, September 11, 2014

Washington, DC – Today, Democracy Initiative coalition partners and allies released statements following the Senate vote on the Democracy for All constitutional amendment following a week-long debate. With 55 Democrats unanimously supporting the amendment, but failing the 67 vote threshold, it is clear that public pressure is mounting to end the post-Citizens United regime of unlimited dark money threatening our democracy.

Continue reading for statements released by Democracy Initiative partners and allies.

***For interview and media requests, please contact Sean Trambley (strambley@democracyinitiative.org) and/or Tyler Creighton (tyler@rethinkmedia.org).***

 From Miles Rapoport, Common Cause President:

“Opponents of the Democracy for All Amendment have spent the past three days arguing that the amendment is a dangerous attack on the First Amendment. Their votes today expose them as the real opponents of free speech, maintaining a system that lets a few wealthy Americans drown out the voices of millions of their fellow citizens.

“Still, today’s vote is a critical and positive step on the long march toward sensible limits on political spending. While we’re disappointed that the amendment didn’t get the 60 votes needed to move it to final passage in the Senate, we’re pleased that a majority of senators are now on record rejecting the Supreme Court’s assertion that money is speech.  They have said that big ideas, not big money, should rule in the public square.”

For the complete release, click here.

From Larry Cohen, Communications Workers of America (CWA) President:

“It is distressing to see the polarization of the U.S. Supreme Court, and now the Senate, on the critical issue of getting big money out of our politics. Every Democrat in the Senate has stood up for the ability of Congress to set reasonable limits on money in politics.  Every Republican has voted for no limits, even though many had previously supported reform, led by Senator John McCain. 

“This vote is a huge marker as to what America is becoming. We are on our way to control by the wealthy of nearly all aspects of public and economic policy.  As workers, we see our rights trampled every day.  This has only worsened over the past 40 years, as the Chamber of Commerce continues its relentless focus on wiping out any balance between the voice of working Americans and management. 

“Today's vote makes it clear that the Republican Senate is joined at the hip with the billionaires who increasingly dominate our lives and prevent fair elections and real debate on the critical issues of the day.  We will continue to build the Democracy Initiative and work as broadly as possible with millions of Americans to change this, not only by amendment but by adopting fair disclosure rules, public financing at the state level and many other measures that enable citizens to Stand Up and Fight Back.”

For the complete release, click here.

From Heather McGhee, Demos President:

“Demos applauds the Senate for debating and voting this week on the Democracy for All resolution, which would clarify that the People have the power to curb the influence of big money on our democracy. 

“Although a minority of senators blocked the resolution from moving forward, a robust debate was a victory and an important step in the national conversation about the undemocratic role of big money in American politics. 

“And, the debate on amending the Constitution helps amplify another way to fix the damage the Supreme Court has done to our democracy with cases such as Citizens United and its horrifying 2014 sequel McCutcheon v. FEC.  The Court can also reverse course on money in politics, like the justices have done before on New Deal economic protections, racial segregation, LGBT rights, and more.

“The promise of American democracy is that we are all afforded an equal say over the policies that shape our lives. Instead, today’s campaign finance system allows wealthy donors and corporate interests to use million-dollar megaphones to influence government, drowning out the voices of the 99 percent of Americans who don’t make large campaign donations. The Constitution should not tolerate our public debates descending into proxy fights between billionaires and CEOs.” 

For the complete release, click here.

From David Donnelly, Every Voice Action CEO:

"Sen. McConnell spent his week defending the ability of millionaires and billionaires to buy unlimited access and influence in Washington. Kentucky voters beware: If McConnell has his way, big donors, super PACs, and lobbyists will have even more power in Washington than they currently enjoy, further drowning out the ideas and needs of regular people from Kentucky and across America.”

For the complete release, click here.

From Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive Director:

“Today, a minority of the Senate voted down the Udall Amendment, along with a chance to minimize the influence of money in our politics. In defeating the Udall Amendment, these senators chose to side with the Koch Brothers and sent a loud message to American voters that the true voice in politics belongs to those with big coffers.

“So long as corporations and a handful of very wealthy donors are allowed to buy elections, efforts to protect our common resources such as food and water will continue to be at risk. Today’s vote is further evidence that we must continue to organize to pass this amendment and restore some common sense to how we fund political campaigns.”

For the complete statement, click here.

From the Franciscan Action Network:

“Today’s 54-42 vote on the Udall Amendment, SJ Res. 19 which would have helped remove the roadblock of unlimited, anonymous campaign contributions instituted by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, shows that progress is being made to give democracy back to the people.

Each American’s vote should count equally, but unchecked and unlimited campaign contributions drown out the voices of the many in favor of the few. A majority of Americans recognize this as a problem that our country faces, and so do a majority in the United States’ Senate. While the measure did not get enough votes to pass, FAN appreciates that a simple majority of Senators voted in favor of SJ Res. 19 and will continue to work to ensure that each American has their voice heard equally.”

“For the complete release, click here.

From John Bonifaz, Co-Founder and President of Free Speech for People:

“The vote marks a huge milestone for the growing grassroots movement for the 28th Amendment. Across the political spectrum, Americans want a constitutional amendment which will reclaim our democracy. In just four years since the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, millions of citizens across the country have propelled this movement to overturn the Supreme Court and to defend our Republic. Sixteen states have already gone on record calling for such an amendment, including the states of Montana and Colorado where 75% of the voters in the 2012 election supported ballot initiatives demanding an amendment. More than 550 cities and towns are also already on record, as are more than 100 Republican officials who have voted for legislative resolutions urging the US Congress to pass an amendment bill and send it to the states for ratification”.

For the complete release, click here.

From Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA Executive Director:

"This week's Senate debate on the Democracy for All Amendment was a watershed moment: sending a clear message to all dirty energy advocates that the people no longer want their money dominating our elections. Opposition to the amendment suggests that there’s still far too many politicians allied with the fossil fuel industry, even though the effects of climate change will impact us all. We will keep calling out those funding climate denial until we have clean elections and clean energy." 

For more details of funding for climate denial, see Greenpeace's new report The Kingpins of Carbon and Their War on Democracy, out this week.

From Gene Karpinski, League of Conservation Voters President:

“The special interests that are polluting our air, water and climate are the same ones that are polluting our democracy. People across the country are frustrated by the influence wielded by those who can write the biggest check and bend government’s will to benefit those who pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink. The Senate should pass this amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s disastrous decisions and re-establish what our Founders intended – a government that answers to the people, not super wealthy corporations.”  

For the complete release, click here.

From Hillary O. Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau Director & Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy:

“Amending the Constitution is hard, but real democracy has never been easy. Today’s historic first vote on the Democracy for All Amendment in the US Senate is a reflection of the momentum that is building as more and more Americans work to have their voices heard through the votes they cast. Already 16 states and hundreds of local governments across the country have called on Congress to take action, showing strong public support for reform from all sides of the political spectrum. While the Senate did not garner the 67 votes needed for passage, the NAACP is encouraged by today’s 55 votes and will continue to work to secure the needed 12.  Amending the US Constitution is an arduous process that changes our nation’s most important governing document. Once adopted, the Democracy for All Amendment will become a core measure in our nation’s laws and democratic values.”

From Eskelsen García, NEA President:

“By not allowing S.J. Res 19 to come to an up or down vote, too many in the U.S. Senate have yet again bowed to corporate manipulators like the Koch brothers, the Walton family and ALEC. These groups continue use the Citizens United decision to stifle the voices of America’s workers and voters by making sure their fiscal interests and voice come before the interests of working families. The power to speak freely is a hollow freedom for the millions of Americans whose voice is drowned out by the booming echo of big money posing as free speech.

“The only way for everyday working Americans to fight back is with our vote this November and in every election. We must remind politicians that they work for us, and not corporations. If our Congress will not work in our best interests, we must elect leaders who will.”

For the complete release, click here.

From Marge Baker, People for the American Way Executive Vice President:

“Less than five years after the Citizens United decision sparked national outrage, we have seen the movement to get big money out of politics go from local, grassroots organizing to a vote in the United States Senate. Today’s historic majority vote is a remarkable milestone for this movement and a platform for taking the fight to the next level. The debate in the Senate this week is a debate that Americans across the country who are passionate about fixing our broken democracy have wanted to see.

“The fight for a constitutional amendment is never easy. It’s not supposed to be. The women’s suffrage amendment ratified in 1920 was first introduced in Congress in 1878. But the grassroots activists pushing for this — who made more than 15,000 calls to Senate offices on the amendment this week alone, who have pushed successfully for hundreds of state and local resolutions, and who have signed more than 3.2 million petitions — aren’t afraid of a tough fight.

“We know that powerful, entrenched interests will continue to try to block the amendment, but we won’t stop pushing until it becomes a reality. Anyone who doubts that underestimates the American people.” 

For the complete release, click here.

From Nick Nyhart, Public Campaign President and CEO:

"An overwhelming majority of the American people support efforts to rein in our unsustainable campaign finance system and now they know who is on their side in Washington, DC. This week's debate on the Democracy for All amendment was an important benchmark in the crucial fight to create a democracy that's truly of, by, and for the people.”

For the complete release, click here.

From Robert Weissman, Public Citizen President:

“Today’s historic vote will be remembered as an important moment in the democracy movement’s successful effort to win a constitutional amendment to rescue our elections, our politics and our country from the scourge of Big Money dominance.

“We owe thanks to the Senate champions who brought forward the legislation, fought for a vote and explained so eloquently on the Senate floor why our country desperately needs the Democracy for All Amendment. But today’s achievement is much more a testament to the growing grassroots movement that refuses to cede control of our nation to a relative handful of corporations and the super-rich.”

For the complete release, click here.

From Mike Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director:

“The fight to get corrupting money out of politics has now begun in earnest, and the American people now have crystal-clear evidence about who is on their side and who is with the billionaire big polluters.

“No one ever thought this fight would be easy. Nothing is when you challenge the broken status quo that big corporations and their political allies desperately cling to in order to preserve their power. But they are fighting a battle they will ultimately lose, because they are going up against a massive, broad grassroots movement fuelled by the support of a vast majority of the American people.

“Washington remains the only place in America where getting money out of politics is a partisan issue. Everywhere else, huge majorities of the American public understand that corrupting money is distorting our government’s priorities and driving all progress on the issues they care about to a halt – and they want immediate action to fix it. Securing a vote on this amendment is just the first step, and the Sierra Club is committed to working with partners across the aisle and across the spectrum to sustain the efforts to return our government to the people.”

For the complete release, click here.

From Mike Russo, U.S. PIRG Federal Program Director:

“Today’s vote was an incredible milestone in the fight to reclaim our democracy.The Citizens United decision unleashed a tide of big money from mega-donors and super PACs into our elections, which has threatened to drown out the voices of ordinary Americans. In the 2012 elections, just 32 super PAC donors spent as much as all 3.7 million small donors to Mitt Romney and President Obama combined, and year after year, we’ve seen campaign spending records shattered.

“But far from accepting this as a new status quo, Americans have been fighting back. In just a few short years, 16 states and more than 550 cities and localities across the country have enacted resolutions calling on Congress to pass an amendment to overturn Citizens United. Today, a majority of the U.S. Senate answered that call.

“Amending the Constitution was never meant to be easy, but we know that the public overwhelmingly supports getting big money out of politics. Today’s vote is just the beginning, and marks a big step forward in the movement to reclaim our democracy.

For the complete release, click here.

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The Democracy Initiative (DI) is a coalition of 50 civil rights, environmental, labor, and civic organizations formed to restore the core principles democracy and political equality. Originally formed in 2012, the DI represents more than 30 million members nationwide.

Democracy Initiative Organizations Release Statements in Support of Democracy for All Constitutional Amendment

Senate kicks off debate today on Sen. Udall’s (D-NM) proposed Constitutional amendment to reign in unprecedented levels of money in politics and overturn Citizens United
Monday, September 8, 2014

Washington, DC – Today, coalition members of the Democracy Initiative released statements in support of the historic Democracy for All constitutional amendment, currently being debated in the U.S. Senate. Introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), the amendment seeks to restore Congress’ authority to regulate campaign finance and curb the influence of big money in politics once and for all.

Continue reading for statements released by Democracy Initiative partners.

***For interview and media requests, please contact Sean Trambley (strambley@democracyinitiative.org) and/or Tyler Creighton (tyler@rethinkmedia.org).*** 

From Miles Rapoport, Common Cause President:

"The amendment is crafted to restore the ability of Congress and our state legislatures to put reasonable limits on political spending after the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to unlimited election spending from corporations and wealthy individuals in Citizens United. It stands for the proposition that big ideas, not big money, should rule in the public square. It preserves every American’s right to speak and write as he or she pleases and protects against efforts by a privileged few to drown out that speech with a flood of negative advertising. The access and influence that money buys corrodes the integrity of our democracy."

For the complete release, click here.

​From Larry Cohen, Communications Workers of America (CWA) President:

“Money isn’t speech and corporations aren’t people.  But over the past few years, working and middle class Americans have seen the billions of dollars spent by corporations and the wealthy result in special access, special tax breaks and special treatment. That’s not what democracy looks like.”

From Heather McGhee, Demos President:

"The promise of American democracy is that we are all afforded an equal say over the policies that shape our lives. Instead, today’s campaign finance system allows wealthy donors and corporate interests to use million-dollar megaphones to influence government, drowning out the voices of the 99 percent of Americans who don’t make large campaign donations. The Constitution should not tolerate our public debates descending into proxy fights between billionaires and CEOs."

For the complete release click here.

From Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive Director:

“Today, the Senate begins debating an opportunity to reduce the influence of money in our politics. By passing the Udall Amendment, the Senate will send a signal that Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United and McCutcheon don’t represent the will of American citizens.

“So long as corporations and a handful of very wealthy donors are allowed to buy elections, it will be difficult to protect our most important resources. The Udall Amendment will help level the playing field and allow citizens to regain their voice in our political system. Then, we can win more victories in the struggle to ban fracking, label GMOs and protect our environment from bad trade deals.”

For the complete release, click here.

From John Bonifaz, Co-Founder and President of Free Speech for People:

"The start of this Senate floor debate marks a huge milestone for the growing grassroots movement for the 28th Amendment. Across the political spectrum, Americans want a constitutional amendment which will reclaim our democracy. In just four years since the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, millions of citizens across the country have propelled this movement to overturn the Supreme Court and to defend our Republic. Sixteen states have already gone on record calling for such an amendment, including the states of Montana and Colorado where 75% of the voters in the 2012 election supported ballot initiatives demanding an amendment. More than 550 cities and towns are also already on record, as are more than 100 Republican officials who have voted for legislative resolutions urging the US Congress to pass an amendment bill and send it to the states for ratification.
 
"The pressing question before the nation today is whether it is ‘we the people’ or ‘we the corporations and big money interests.’ This not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is a deeply American issue. Whatever our political differences may be, we all share the common vision of government of, by, and for the people."


For the complete release, click here.

From Greenpeace USA:

 “The Koch brothers and other dirty energy advocates are polluting both our environment and our politics, our air and our airwaves,” said Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. “The Democracy for All Amendment will strengthen the chance for Americans to vote for candidates that care about our communities and environment, rather than those whose voices have been bought by big business. This is an essential step to ensuring a future free from catastrophic global warming.”

“The Pentagon describes global warming as a top national security threat, yet the Koch brothers and their billionaires club have spent a fortune to help deny its existence."  said Charlie Cray, co-author of a new Greenpeace report: The Kingpins of Carbon and Their War on Democracy. "Greenpeace wants to see the Democracy for All Amendment stop Koch Industries, Peabody, ExxonMobil and others from using their excessive profits to dominate our elections."

From Hillary O. Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau Director & Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy:

"The corrupting role of money in politics is no secret and sadly it is ever increasing, informing who stands for office, who wins, and, most critically, the eventual public policy Congress enacts. The U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2010 Citizens United v. FEC and 2014 McCutcheon vs. FEC will only exacerbate these problems. Big money is the main reason Congress is increasingly out of step with the interests of everyday Americans, particularly on issues of economic insecurity, and particularly with racial and ethnic minorities and low-income Americans. It is becoming increasingly clear that income and wealth inequality is rooted in political inequality. Until we break this dependence on big money special interests in our campaign system, the policy agenda for everyday Americans will be thwarted – whether it be improving Americans’ economic security, fighting for workers’ rights, improving stewardship of environment, or improving our neighborhoods, you name it. The basic imperatives of a healthy democracy—the right to vote and the right to have your voice be heard —desperately need to be strengthened for individuals’ votes to mean something."

From Mary Kusler, National Education Association (NEA) Director of Government Relations:

"Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC four years ago, corporate money has flooded our political system, drowning out the voices of ordinary Americans. In McCutcheon v. FEC, issued earlier this year, the Court lifted the cap on the total amount a single individual can contribute to candidates, political parties, and political committees, further tipping the scales in favor of big money donors. In 2012 alone, “Super PACs” and 501(c)4 entities spent hundreds of millions of dollars to influence the outcome of elections.

"Congress and the states are helpless to prevent the resulting distortion of our democracy. In effect, the Supreme Court decisions cited above are denying regular people an equal say in determining the future of our country. The proposed constitutional amendment would allow Congress to turn down the volume on corporate speech and big money donors, so individual citizens could be heard as our nation’s founders intended."

From Marge Baker, People for the American Way Executive Vice President:

“Today, more money than ever is flooding our democracy. But something else is also happening: everyday Americans are fighting back. Americans are no longer willing to settle for elections auctioned to the highest bidders.”

For the complete release, click here.

From Nick Nyhart, Public Campaign President and CEO:

“In the simplest terms, this debate will let the American people know who is on the side of the many and who is on the side of the money.  A successful vote on the Democracy for All amendment would set us on a course for change, permitting common sense limits on campaign spending and a way to stem the tide of special interest money in elections.”

From Robert Weissman, Public Citizen President:

"Outside money – hundreds of millions in “dark money,” from sources undisclosed – are determining the contours of elections across the country, often stealing control of campaign narratives from candidates themselves. Degrading and depressing negative ads fill the airwaves, heightening citizen cynicism and frustration. Meanwhile, candidates scramble to raise the millions they can from the narrow band of wealthy people who fund most campaigns.

"We need a fundamental fix, which is why it is so vital to enact the Democracy for All Amendment, which would overturn Citizens United and other decisions, and restore our democracy."

For the complete release, click here.

From Mike Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director:

“The fundamentally-flawed Citizens United decision opened up the floodgates for a tidal wave of toxic polluter money into our government, drowning out the voices of those who are fighting for the health of our communities. Enough is enough. With the vote on this amendment, each Senator goes on the record as to whether they want a government for the polluters or for the people.”

For the complete release, click here.

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The Democracy Initiative (DI) is a coalition of 50 civil rights, environmental, labor, and civic organizations formed to restore the core principles democracy and political equality. Originally formed in 2012, the DI represents more than 30 million members nationwide.

Democracy Initiative Calls on President Obama to Bring Health Care Exchanges into Compliance with Federal Voter Registration Law

Friday, March 14, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
March 13, 2014 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Democracy Initiative—a coalition of more than 40 labor, civil rights, voting rights, environmental, and like-minded organizations committed to strengthening American democracy—called on the president to ensure that millions of Americans applying for benefits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are also provided their federally-guaranteed opportunity to register to vote.

In the letter to President Obama, the groups express concern that the application process for benefits through federally-facilitated exchanges (FFEs) currently violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), and urge the administration to take immediate steps to ensure compliance with this important federal law. 

The letter states, “As staunch supporters of voting rights, we believe that it is critical for the ACA to meet these legal requirements now and offer voter registration to the millions of Americans who will be shopping for insurance on the exchanges in the coming months and years.” 

Signatories to the letter include the Communication Workers of America, the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, the National Education Association, Southwest Voter Registration Project, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the United Auto Workers, among others. 

Because the health benefit exchanges provide public assistance within the states, including Medicaid, the Obama administration has acknowledged that FFEs must provide voter registration services. However, the current application process in the FFEs does not meet the NVRA’s requirements. As a consequence, several million Americans have already lost out on the opportunity to register to vote. Millions more will be denied this right if the administration does not take action in the coming weeks.

The NVRA—widely known as the “motor voter” law—was enacted 20 years ago with strong bipartisan support from Congress. It made voter registration more accessible by requiring convenient voter registration opportunities to be provided in certain instances when Americans interact with their government. For the last 20 years, states have offered voter registration services in tandem with driver’s license transactions, Medicaid, and other government programs. More than 140 million Americans have applied to register to vote through provisions of the NVRA. 

In the letter to the White House, the members of the Democracy Initiative thank the President for making both health care reform and voting rights top priorities in his administration, and call for the necessary reforms to immediately bring the ACA application process into compliance with the NVRA. 

A copy of the letter is attached.  

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The Democracy Initiative (DI) is a coalition of more than 40 civil rights, environmental, labor, and civic organizations formed to restore our democracy. Originally formed in 2012, the DI represents more than 30 million members nationwide.