Issues

Voting Rights

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Democrats have a long and proud history of fighting for voting rights that continues to this day. And while we've made significant progress in securing the right to vote for all eligible Americans, many voters still face difficulties in the voting process, from registering to casting a ballot to having their votes counted. Those often disproportionately affected are communities of color, young people, the elderly, low-income individuals, and disabled voters, as well as military members and veterans. In many parts of the country, voters are underserved by a lack of polling places, outdated voting machines, and unnecessarily complicated laws.

As Republican politicians try to make it harder to vote, Democrats are working to expand access to the polls. And we won't stop working to promote a system of elections that is accessible, open, and fair — a system that ensures that every eligible person can cast a vote and that every lawfully cast vote is counted.

To learn more about why voting rights matter, visit: www.votingrightsmatter.com.

Recent Updates
  • 50 years later voting rights still threatened

    Nearly 50 years ago, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, to outlaw discrimination based on race, religion, gender, and more. The law strengthened voting rights and pushed for an end to racial segregation in schools, at the workplace, and in public places. The law passed with bipartisan support -- in fact, Republicans helped lead the charge and break the filibuster.

    Unfortunately, today's GOP retreats headlong from the battle towards greater equality. In fact, many Republican are trying to sabotage or undermine crucial protections in the Civil Rights Act.

    One of the critical goals of the Civil Rights Act was “to enforce the constitutional right to vote.” But instead of ensuring this right, today’s Republican Party wants to make it more difficult for people to cast their ballots.

    Republicans are engaged in an aggressive and sustained campaign to make voting harder for millions of Americans. Across the country, Republican controlled legislatures enact laws that put barriers between voters and the ballot box. Apparently, Republicans have decided that if voters reject their ideas at the polls, they'll just rig the system by decreasing participation and making it more difficult to cast a ballot.

    • In Texas, Alabama, Arizona, and Kansas, they have passed strict photo identification and proof of citizenship laws. The result: voters who change their name because they get married or can't provide an original birth certificate find it more difficult to have their vote counted.
    • In Wisconsin, Ohio, and North Carolina, the GOP is restricting early voting periods.
    • And in Minnesota, Republicans are trying to sue the Secretary of State to stop that state from implementing online voter registration.

    Voting restrictions like these impact all Americans, but they disproportionately hurt African Americans, Latinos, working people, seniors, young people, and women – the very groups the Civil Rights Act has been helping for fifty years.

    Meanwhile, Democrats are committed to our mission of ensuring that every eligible voter can register, that every registered voter can vote, and that every vote is accurately counted. Because we know that our nation has never moved forward with less participation. So as we mark 50 years since the Civil Rights Act became the law of the land, it is more important than ever that we recommit ourselves to protecting and expanding the franchise for ALL Americans.

    And it’s not just on voting rights that the GOP is standing on the wrong side of progress:

    • Republicans made clear this week that they do not support legislation that would move us closer to equal pay for equal work and address the persistent discrimination that millions of American women experience in the workplace.
    • On rights for LGBT Americans, the GOP blocked the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and in many states authored legislation to enshrine discrimination in the legal code.
    • Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and take us back to the days where insurance companies could deny coverage to those with preexisting conditions, or even for just being a woman.
    • The GOP continues to oppose and obstruct efforts to raise the minimum wage and ensure folks who work full time don’t remain in poverty.
    • Republicans refuse to act on immigration reform, dividing families and leaving millions of people stuck in a broken system.

    When it comes to civil rights, equality, and progress, Republicans are not only on the wrong side of the issues, their positions stand in stark contrast to the views of the American people. As Democrats, we will keep fighting to move our country forward, and work to get even closer to the ideals embodied in the Civil Rights Act over the next 50 years.

     

    Donna Brazile is the Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation at the Democratic National Committee.

     

  • Support the Voter Expansion Project

    Voting is one of the most fundamental rights in our democracy. That's why we're launching the Voter Expansion Project. We’re leading the charge to expand the vote, because it's not enough anymore for us to simply protect against voting restrictions.

    Join President Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party in our fight to protect and expand the right to vote.

    Voting is one of the most fundamental rights in our democracy. That's why we're launching the Voter Expansion Project -- to ensure that every eligible voter can register, that every registered voter can vote, and that every vote is accurately counted.

    We’re leading the charge to expand the vote, because it's not enough anymore for us to simply protect against voting restrictions.

    Join President Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party in our fight to protect and expand the right to vote.

    I'm in!

  • Freedom Day

    On January 23, 2014, an image of my father appeared on the front page of the Hattiesburg American, a local paper in Mississippi. The solemn picture shows an older African-American man recreating the city’s 1964 Freedom Day, when he was a 14-year-old civil rights activist demanding voting rights for all. He joined with hundreds of others across the beleaguered city.  He was a child, unable to use the very powers he sought for others, who nevertheless risked his own liberty to demand justice.

    There will be elections all across the country this November, and like my father 50 years ago, we will be called to participate and vote; in the process, we will be standing for those who will remain voiceless if we do not. Our response to that call will be our legacy half a century from now. Did we balk at the difficult beginnings of a transformed health system that will give millions the ability to live better without fear of economic ruin?  Have we ignored the attempts to cut the fabric of our social safety net, distracted by stereotypes and rigid ideology? Did our votes go uncounted because we refused to secure the unnecessary - but required - identification?

    The power of the vote is more than a right or an obligation. It is a powerful tool. In the proper hands, our votes alter the nature of our communities and our nation, much as my father’s protest helped change Mississippi. 

    I live in Georgia now, a frontline for civil rights and the right to vote. Each Election Day is a call from my father’s 14-year old self across the lines of race and class and geography that might separate us. It is his call that I urge each of us to honor in 2014.

    Let’s call Election Day by its rightful name beginning this year – for if we are willing to act, every Election Day has the chance to be our very own Freedom Day.

    Stacey Abrams is the Georgia House Minority Leader and represents the 89th district, which includes the city of Atlanta.

  • Today in 1965

    Forty nine years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. visited the White House to discuss the importance of the Voting Rights Act. Six months later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the landmark legislation into law.

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Protecting the Vote The Real Cost of Photo ID Laws: Read the Report
Recent Action
Vetoing suppressive photo identification laws
May 26, 2011
Gov. Dayton of Minnesota vetoed S0509, a law that would have required government-issued photo ID in order to vote.
Vetoing suppressive photo identification laws
Gov. Dayton of Minnesota vetoed S0509, a law that would have required government-issued photo ID in order to vote.
Milestones