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.


Testimony to DNC Platform Committee



Testimony of Wendy Fields, Executive Director, Democracy Initiative before the Democratic National Committee Platform Drafting Committee


Members of the Democratic National Committee Platform Drafting Committee, thank you for allowing me to speak on behalf of the Democracy Initiative and our 30 million members of groups like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Communication Workers, Common Cause, NAACP and the AFL-CIO.

... Read More

The DI Report: Democracy Awakening

DI Report

This weekend, a mass movement of thousands of activists and advocates from more than 300 labor, environment, civil rights, and faith organizations, descended on Capitol Hill for Democracy Awakening in a brilliant display of... Read More

The DI Report: 2015 Year in Review

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

The DI Report: Netroots Nation 2015

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!

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

The DI Report: Voting Rights Resources

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

The DI Report: The DI's 3rd Annual Convening, 5th Anniversary of Citizens United, And Looking Ahead

DI Report

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

The DI Report: Election Protection, Democracy For All Amendment, Fair Elections

DI Report

This year and through the election, Democracy Initiative partners and allies came together and intensified efforts to protect our democracy, demonstrating the strength of our unified mission and goals. Many organizations, whose primary mission is elsewhere, were engaged in key efforts across the country. Volunteers stepped up to monitor the polls, we saw the culmination of years of effort with a vote on a Constitutional Amendment on the Senate floor with majority support, and new efforts in... Read More

The DI Report: Shelby County, Constitutional Amendment, CWA Legislative Conference, & Delaware

DI Report

This summer, the Democracy Initiative continued to fight for our democracy and engage activists around the country to stand up for our future. The stakes have never been higher as powerful interests are spending unprecedented amounts in campaign contributions and the health of our voting rights remains tenuous in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act and new laws implemented since the last election that circumscribe the ability of many to vote.  ... Read More

The DI Report: McCutcheon, NY Public Finance, and National Voter Registration Act

DI Report

Welcome to the second installment of the Democracy Initiative’s newsletter. We have continued our fast pace and remain actively engaged on the critical issues facing our country. This has been a tough month in the wake of McCutcheon, but we remain determined to save our democracy from big money and special interests.

Please continue reading for an update on our recent work.

Supreme Court Hands Down Disappointing Decision in McCutcheon v. FEC
... Read More