This morning on a conference call, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced a new Democratic effort to protect every eligible citizen’s right to vote. The effort includes a new website, protectingthevote.org, and a new report, “A Reversal in Progress: Restricting Voting Rights for Electoral Gain,” which can be found at the same website.
Democrats believe that our democracy is stronger, not weaker, when voters are able to cast their ballot and have their vote counted. Unfortunately, Republicans across the country have engaged in a full-scale attack on the right to vote, seeking ways to restrict or limit voters’ ability to cast their ballots for their own partisan advantage.
Chair Wasserman Schultz said during the call:
Today the DNC is announcing a new comprehensive effort to educate voters about their right to vote and to expose efforts by the Republican Party to limit the right to vote for political gain.
We are rolling out a new website today at protectingthevote.org that will give voters the information they need about voting. Also available at protectingthevote.org is a report called “A Reversal in Progress: Restricting Voting Rights for Electoral Gain,” that details what Republicans are doing with regard to voter suppression—and what Democrats are doing to fight back against it.
Why are we doing this?
Democrats believe that our democracy is stronger, not weaker, when voters are able to cast their ballot and have their vote counted. Unfortunately, Republicans across the country have engaged in a full-scale attack on the right to vote, seeking ways to restrict or limit voters’ ability to cast their ballots for their own partisan advantage. This is bad for our country and our democracy, and it disproportionally affects African Americans, Hispanics, young people, seniors, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, people with disabilities, and low-income voters.
By now, it’s well known that Republicans have advanced strict photo ID requirements for voting in more than 30 states. And they’re doing more to roll back the right to vote and skew the 2012 presidential election in the Republicans’ favor. Across the nation—and especially in presidential swing states—Republicans have moved to reduce the availability of early voting, restrict voter registration drives and Election Day Registration, and challenge the citizenship of eligible voters.
We’ve heard the Republican talking points that these restrictions are necessary to prevent voter fraud. But the truth is that every major investigation into voter fraud, including a five-year investigation by the Bush Justice Department, has arrived at the same conclusion: There is almost none.
As today’s DNC report details, all of these restrictive measures have one thing in common: They make it harder to vote, especially among voters who supported the President and Democratic candidates in 2008.
Millions of Americans register through voter registration drives—and minority voters do so at twice the rate of white voters.
Eleven percent of Americans lack the photo identification that these new laws require—and that rate is much higher in some communities. For example, 25 percent of African Americans and 19 percent of Latinos lack a government-issued photo ID.
These are voters who consistently support the Democratic Party—and that’s exactly why Republicans are trying to use these photo ID laws to restrict their ability to vote.
As Republicans shift their target to trying to restrict early voting, we know from North Carolina and my home state of Florida that African Americans voted early at higher rates than other voters in 2008.
Many of the Republicans’ strongest efforts to restrict voting have been made in states that were very competitive in 2008: Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Missouri.
If that isn’t enough, we’ve got the Republican leadership’s own words. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
But Democrats refuse to stand by and watch this happen. For the past 50 years, the Democratic Party has remained at the forefront of efforts to expand access to the franchise.
Democratic legislators and activists across the country have fought hard against laws that restrict voting rights. And in the five states where a photo ID bill landed on a Democratic governor’s desk, each governor vetoed it.
In November, we saw a major victory for voting rights when the people of Maine vetoed a regressive law that sought to end their nearly 40-year-old tradition of Election Day Registration.
Democrats are gaining steam but we have plenty of work ahead of us. Moving forward into 2012, Democrats will support policies that allow for more political participation and engage in unprecedented voter protection efforts.
In the meantime, you can access the new Voting Rights Institute report and website at protectingthevote.org.