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Voting Rights
  • Really? Governor Scott’s Renewed Efforts to Purge Florida Voters Not Necessary

    Governor Scott is back at it.  In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, Governor Scott announced he is taking another shot at purging Florida’s voter rolls of ‘noncitizens.’

    Just to be clear, we’re talking about Republican purging efforts botched so badly that Governor Scott himself had to vote by provisional ballot in 2006 because the purge had determined he was dead.

    Seriously.

    You’d think that would have been a wake-up call that this sort of purging is deeply flawed and unnecessary.

    Governor Scott and his Republican Administration claim this is simply an effort to suppress voter fraud, but Floridians know better.  This shameful attempt to shrink the electorate was highly controversial in the months leading up to the 2012 presidential election, when the Department of Justice sued the state of Florida for attempting to disqualify thousands of voters less than 90 days before an election.

    The ability to cast a vote and have one’s vote counted is central to the functioning of our democracy.  But too often, Republicans have systematically turned how ballots are cast into a manufactured issue in swing states across the country.  Too often, these Republican-led so-called anti-voter fraud efforts are nothing more than thinly veiled attempts to disqualify voters that reek of politics.

    Such is the case in Florida.  Of the 180,000 potential noncitizens identified for purging in 2012, less than 0.02% were actually ineligible. Nearly 60 percent of those included in the initial list were Hispanic – meanwhile, Hispanic voters make up only 13 percent of Florida’s electorate.

    Unfortunately for Governor Scott and national Republicans, Florida’s voters won’t be fooled again.   Attempts like what is now happening in Florida, and what is happening in many states across the country, go against the spirit of our democracy and are exactly why Congress must answer President Obama’s call to restore the Voting Rights Act to its full authority.

  • Donna Brazile: Voting Rights Act Needs Help

    In honor of the 48th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, DNC Vice Chairwoman, Donna Brazile penned this op-ed on the need to protect voting rights. Read the excerpt below and visit www.votingrightsmatter.com to learn more.

    "On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signedthe Voting Rights Act and said, "There is no room for injustice anywhere in the American mansion."

    "In the 48 years since its enactment, the Voting Rights Act has helped secure the right to vote for millions of men and women in our country – dismantling the injustice of preventing eligible citizens from casting their vote — and our democracy has been made stronger for it. But now the promise and purpose of the Voting Rights Act is in jeopardy.

    "I'm not naïve enough to believe the Voting Rights Act rooted out all injustice — after all, I saw firsthand what my sister had to go through voting in Florida in 2000 — but we know from experience the Voting Rights Act has provided a critical step forward for millions of African American and other voters.

    "Too many voters in our American family overcame many obstacles, and in some cases gave their lives, to obtain the right to vote — a sacred right that cannot and should not be put at risk."

    Click here to read more.

  • Making real the promises of the 14th Amendment

    On this day, 145 years ago, the 14th Amendment became the law of the land — addressing citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws. And while it was was far from perfect, the amendment was the first step in making it illegal to deny the right to vote based on race.

    The 14th amendment had big implications. It ignited the suffrage movement, ended segregation in our schools through Brown vs. Board of Education and provided the justification for Reynolds v. Sims — the landmark Supreme Court decision that established voting as a fundamental right.  As the court explained, "The right to vote freely for the candidate of one's choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government."

    But even with these amendments and rulings, there was and still is voter discrimination and disenfranchisement. Poll taxes, literacy requirements and most recently voter ID laws — These are all tactics that have been deployed to restrict voting rights to certain populations. And some states have a stronger history than others. I know. I saw it first-hand as a little girl growing up in Louisiana.

    That's why the Voting Rights Act is so important. It made real the promises of the 14th Amendment and held states accountable for acts of voter suppression by requiring federal approval of any measures that could limit and restrict voting rights. But sadly, the Supreme Court's recent ruling dismantled a key provision of the law. But what's worse is the speed at which Republicans are moving to pass restrictive voting laws in the aftermath of the decision.

    These actions aren't just bad for the constituents they represent, they directly violate the principles our country was founded on and are a slap in the face to anyone who's ever fought for voting rights.

    As we commemorate the implementation of the 14th amendment today, let's take a minute and remember its intention — to expand access to voting to EVERY American. Let's fix the Voting Rights Act and stop voter suppression wherever it exists.

  • We Shall not be moved!

    Earlier today, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke to the 104th NAACP convention in Orlando, Florda where she addressed voting rights and the need to protect those fundamental rights. Watch the video of her speech and check out a few highlights from her remarks.

    Earlier today, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke to the 104th NAACP convention in Orlando, Florda where she addressed voting rights and the need to protect those fundamental rights. Watch the video of her speech and check out a few highlights from her remarks.

    "Voting is not a privilege, it is a right which must not be infringed."

    "We have recently been reminded that progress is never guaranteed and that the right to vote is only as safe as the political will to protect it."

    "We must all remain vigilant and focused in light of the Supreme Court’s decision and hold the leadership in the House accountable to update the law. Sitting on the sidelines, waiting for something to happen is not an option."

    "Democrats will – as we have for over 50 years – continue to ensure that we protect the franchise. It’s who we are as a party, as a people, and as a nation. And we will never back down; We will never give up; and We shall not be moved!"


    Click here to read the full remarks.

  • Same Old Party

    While Republicans continue to talk about a rebrand, their actions prove that the Grand Old Party is still the Same Old Party. Watch this video then chip in so we have the resources to defeat them and their extreme agenda.

    While Republicans continue to talk about a rebrand, their actions prove that the Grand Old Party is still the Same Old Party. Watch this video, then chip in so we have the resources to defeat them and their extreme agenda.

    Donate

  • Ed Rendell on election rigging in Pennsylvania: "A really big deal"

    Republicans lost in 2012 because they failed to appeal to a majority of voters—but it's clear they didn't learn their lesson. Instead of working to appeal to the changing, growing electorate, Republicans are now trying to rig the game by changing the Electoral College.

    Several states have already considered—and rejected—a similar plan: Republicans in Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Florida have all come out against rigging the Electoral College. But that hasn't stopped Pennsylvania's Senate majority leader, Republican Dominic Pileggi, from introducing legislation to do just that.

    The Pennsylvania Republican plan would award electoral votes proportionally. Consider this: If a plan like this had been in place in 2012, President Obama would have received 12 of Pennsylvania's Electoral College votes, and Mitt Romney would have received eight—even though he lost the popular vote by more than 300,000 votes. This is a plan that would diminish Pennsylvania's importance in future elections and its historical role as a key swing state—and more important, it would disempower hundreds of thousands of voters.

    Democrats are fighting back and calling on Gov. Tom Corbett to come out publicly against the electoral-rigging scheme. Former Gov. Ed Rendell sent an email to Democrats in his home state earlier today with his take on "a bad idea that will hurt every Pennsylvanian, Democrat and Republican alike"—and why every Democrat needs to make their opposition heard:

    Friend --

    Right now, Republicans in our state are trying to diminish Pennsylvania's importance in future presidential elections -- meaning that the issues that are important to you and me will get less attention at the national level. They know they can't win our state on the issues, so they're resorting to underhanded tactics and undermining the influence of our voters.

    Their plan would change the way Pennsylvania allocates its Electoral College votes -- splitting our votes between the winner and the loser, rather than the traditional winner-take-all approach we've used for centuries. It would end our historical role as a critical electoral state, and create a detour around Pennsylvania on the road to the White House.

    In short, it's a bad idea that will hurt every Pennsylvanian, Democrat and Republican alike. And it's up to us to do everything we can to stop it.

    Call Governor Tom Corbett's office right now at (717) 787-2500 and politely let him know you oppose this plan because it's neither fair nor the right thing for Pennsylvania.

    After your call, let us know how it went.

    Look, it doesn't take a genius to figure out why Republicans are trying to pull this trick in Pennsylvania: They haven't carried our state in a presidential election since 1988. They haven't been able to beat us, so now they're trying to rig the game.

    This isn't the first time we've seen Pennsylvania Republicans try to rig the election in their favor. In 2012, they tried to change the rules by passing burdensome voter ID laws that would have had the effect of disenfranchising thousands of Pennsylvanians. We fought those laws in the courts, and won.

    Now let's join together again and make sure this latest scheme doesn't fly.

    Call Governor Corbett at (717) 787-2500, and tell him to stop this bill. Then, click below to report your call:

    http://my.democrats.org/PA-Call-Report-Back

    Let's do this,

    Ed

    Governor Ed Rendell

    P.S. -- I can tell you from my experience as Governor: these calls make a difference. Call right now and tell him you oppose this bill.

  • 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.

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