Voting Rights Institute

The Voting Rights Institute of the Democratic National Committee is a permanent organization created to monitor developments in election law, advocate to make voting more accessible, and provide guidance on voting rights and election administration issues. This work is integrally tied to our Party's platform, which commits to fully protecting and enforcing the fundamental right to vote.

The Democratic National Committee is dedicated to ensuring that the process of voting remains open and fair for all eligible Americans. We continue to work to defeat any legislative or political effort that erodes the most fundamental of American rights—the right to vote.

Under the leadership of its chair Donna Brazile, the Voting Rights Institute focuses on the protection and expansion of voting rights in a variety of ways, including:

  • Voting Rights Policy Development
  • Research and Publication
  • Voter Protection Organizing
  • Redistricting Support
  • Voting Rights Litigation Support

Before you cast your ballot, familiarize yourself with the voters' bill of rights. Download copies in English and Spanish below.

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Recent Updates
  • 48 years after Bloody Sunday, the fight for voting rights continues

    In 1965, 600 Americans set out on foot toward Montgomery, Alabama, marching for a fairer America where all eligible citizens could register to vote and cast a ballot without fear or intimidation—and have their votes counted.

    But when they reached the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the marchers were met by state troopers, who ordered the "unlawful assembly" to disperse. As they knelt to pray, the peaceful protesters were brutally attacked by 150 troopers with billy clubs and tear gas. Fifty-eight people, including a 25-year-old John Lewis, were sent to the hospital with injuries. March 7, 1965, became known as Bloody Sunday.

    In 2013, more than 15,000 citizens re-creating the march were joined by the Vice President of the United States, who crossed the bridge arm-in-arm with Congressman Lewis and many others who led the fight for voting rights. We've made a tremendous amount of progress in 48 years. But even in 2013, the fight continues.

    Right now, the Supreme Court is considering challenges to the Voting Rights Act, whose 1965 passage was spurred by the resolve of the marchers at Selma. The Voting Rights Act struck down Jim Crow laws and measures intended to disenfranchise African American voters. In the years since, this historic, still-vitally necessary piece of legislation has been reauthorized four times with tremendous bipartisan support. The provision in question says that any changes in voting laws or procedures in the 16 states and jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination must be pre-cleared with the federal government—but even in 2013, it's necessary to ensure everyone who wants to cast a ballot can.

    Just last year, Republican governors, state legislatures, and conservative activists passed laws making it more difficult to vote—laws that would have a significantly disproportionate impact on minorities, the very populations whose access to the ballot has been protected by the Voting Rights Act for nearly half a century. Republicans tried a variety of tactics: slashing the amount of time available for early voting, enacting photo ID laws, and voter purges. Democrats and voting rights activists challenged many of these restrictions in court, and the courts blocked many of the worst measures.

    But what stood out the most in 2012 was the persistence of everyday citizens who were determined to cast their ballots. From the 300,000 Ohioans whose signatures fought back against attempts to change election rules to the 102-year-old voter in Florida who was told she'd have to wait in line for six hours to cast a ballot, the American people refused to let others trample on our rights—the rights that marchers, 48 years ago today, fought so hard for.

    As President Obama said just weeks ago in his second inaugural address, "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

    "It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began."

    For more information on voting rights, check out the Voting Rights Institute and sign up for updates.

  • The GOP motto: If you can't beat 'em, rig the game

    In 2012, the Republican Party led a coordinated campaign to disenfranchise millions of voters through burdensome voter ID laws and shortened early voting periods—with the express purpose of sending Mitt Romney to the White House.

    They failed. Republicans lost their battle to suppress the vote in our nation's courts, and they lost on the issues at the ballot box, as African Americans, Latinos, and young voters turned out in record numbers. But instead of learning the lessons of 2012 and working to appeal to our growing electorate, Republicans are fixated on finding new ways to undermine the majority of voters and keep another Democrat from winning in 2016.

    Their philosophy is simple: "If you can't beat 'em, rig the game."

    Tomorrow in Virginia—where President Obama won decisively in 2012—a state Senate committee will vote on a bill that would rig the 2016 election in favor of Republican candidates by changing how the Electoral College appropriates votes.

    Currently in Virginia, Electoral College votes are allocated on a winner-take-all basis. But Republicans want them allocated by congressional district—ensuring their heavily gerrymandered Republican districts will deliver for the Republican candidate in the next presidential election.

    If this scheme had been in place in 2012, President Obama would have won only four out of 13 electoral votes in Virginia—even though he received 140,000 more votes from Virginia voters than Romney did.

    It's too extreme even for Virginia's Bob McDonnell, one of the most far-right governors in the country. A spokesman for McDonnell said last week, "The governor does not support this legislation. He believes Virginia's existing system works just fine as it is."

    But another Tea Party governor, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, thinks election rigging is an "interesting" idea—something "worth looking at."

    This is only the beginning. Virginia and Wisconsin are just the first of several states President Obama won in 2012 whose Republican governors and legislatures are considering rigging their Electoral College votes in favor of the GOP. And the head of the party, Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus, has endorsed the plan, saying, "I think it's something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at."

    But if we learned anything in 2012, it's that the American people will not stand by and watch Republican politicians manipulate our electoral process and trample on our hard-won voting rights. We'll fight to make our voices heard and our ballots counted—and oppose any and all attempts to rig our electoral process.

    For more information on the Republican-sponsored efforts to rig the next presidential election, sign up for updates from the Democratic Party.