After big wins in the 2013 elections, Democrats have the momentum going into 2014. And while we continue to see a Republican Party that's more extreme than ever — one that shut down our government and risked default — there's good news too. Right now, 17 seats is all we need to take back the House and give President Obama a Congress that will work with, not against him. Watch this video on our 2013 victories, then donate so we have the resources it takes to make John Boehner an ex-speaker come 2014.
Today, in states from North Carolina to California to New York to Texas, it’s Election Day. Voters in New Jersey and Virginia will vote in two statewide races — and in communities all across America, people will cast ballots for mayors and local officials. All of these elections are incredibly important, and we cannot afford to have you sit at home. We need every vote, if we want to elect Democrats who will fight for you and your family.
Check out more information about elections in your state:
I’m in! I’m the new Director of Voter Protection and we’ve got a big job on our hands. Over the past several years we have seen laws passed across the country that have made it more difficult for women, the elderly, college students, ethnic minorities and low-income individuals to register and to vote. This is a disturbing trend that runs counter to our tradition as a nation. The right to vote is a fundamental right — our ability to hire and fire politicians influences what is spent on public education, whether health care covers a pre-existing condition or whether a woman can control her own choices – and it is a right that our forbearers have fought and died for.
We believe that every American, regardless of party, should be able to make their voice heard. Our democracy is undermined by laws that allow any rightful voter, let alone hundreds of thousands of rightful voters, to be denied their franchise. We’ve never solved anything with less democracy.
I’m fired up because I know when I read about ID laws in Texas that are so strict that many married women will not be able to vote or purges in Virginia that will remove thousands of voters days before an election or North Carolina playing hide and seek with polling locations, we’re able to do something about it. I’m excited to join the Democratic National Committee and Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz as we build the best voter protection program in our party’s history.
The fight to protect and expand the right to vote is not new. From Abraham Lincoln to Susan B. Anthony to Martin Luther King and John Lewis, the right to vote has been earned the same way – by people organizing their communities to apply political and legal pressure for change. We will adopt these lessons for our program and I hope you will join us in our effort. If you want to join the fight to beat back Republican attempts to limit the right to vote, and support leaders across the country who are working to expand and modernize access to the ballot, sign up here: www.votingrightsmatter.com
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.
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:
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:
Let's do this,
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.
Sen. Casey speaks out against the GOP effort to change the way electoral votes are counted in Pennsylvania: j.mp/YmaCcm— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) Tue Mar 19 18:15:11 +0000 2013
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.