The 2008 election saw 131 million people vote, a cresting tide of participation powered by a diverse set of voters including young people, African-Americans, and Democrats energized by the Obama candidacy. Since that election, there have been efforts to structurally limit voting. In 2011 alone, more that 180 bills to restrict voting were introduced in 41 states. When the protections of the Voting Rights Act were further diminished by the Supreme Court ruling on Shelby County v. Holder, even more states moved to pass laws restricting access to the ballot box.
During the summer of 2015, Democracy Initiative organizations and allies came together to reimagine voting rights. Not only did we want to defend against these attacks on our democracy; we need a democracy for the 21st century. And we need citizens like you to help lead the offensive and take action to protect and expand the vote.
We can’t wait for Congress to restore the VRA. We’re going state by state and county by county to fight for modern elections in our communities that include everyone. We created a model bill that had the best of everything in it, a “gold standard” for what voting should look like based on simple ideas. The reforms in our model bill make up a vision of the equal access we need to make sure all of our voices are equal and can be heard.
- Registration: Research shows that registering to vote is the largest barrier to participating in the political process. Reforms like same day and automatic voter registration will help people in your state register to vote more easily.
- Voting: Once people have registered to vote, we need to make voting itself easier. For example, early voting will help working families find time to vote, and no excuse absentee ballots will allow people like senior citizens to vote from home, rather than a polling station.
- Transparency: We need to make sure people know where and how to vote. Transparency requires the state to keep people updated on changes to the voting process; for example, if the location of your local polling station changes, your state would have to tell you about it right away.
- Language Assistance Requirements: The state needs to provide people who speak a language other than English with services or translated documents to help them with the voting process.
States across the country are passing these reforms because activists like you are mobilizing to demand equal access to the ballot box. The issues that matter in your community should be as important to your government as they are to you, and if we come together, we can make sure our voices are front and center in our political process.