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Strengthening Voting Rights and Democracy

Fighting for Equal Access to our Electoral System

We have seen growing challenges facing our democracy—restrictive voting laws, criminalization of third party registration, increased barriers to the ballot box, and corporations exerting an ever-larger influence on who wins elections. Marginalization from the electoral process has been particularly acute for people of color, low-income people, youth, and immigrants. For example, in 2012, more than eight million eligible Latinos were not registered to vote. In this political context, the work to strengthen our democracy and develop an electoral system that is open and accessible requires we...

We have seen growing challenges facing our democracy—restrictive voting laws, criminalization of third party registration, increased barriers to the ballot box, and corporations exerting an ever-larger influence on who wins elections. Marginalization from the electoral process has been particularly acute for people of color, low-income people, youth, and immigrants. For example, in 2012, more than eight million eligible Latinos were not registered to vote. In this political context, the work to strengthen our democracy and develop an electoral system that is open and accessible requires we use all available tools to drive impact, including:

  • Building on existing legal and policy infrastructure in the voting rights landscape through the engagement of base-building organizations that not only drive policy but also connect the communities most impacted to the fight.
  • Developing innovative city and county level policies that expand the geographic opportunities to move the progressive community from defense to offense on voting rights.
  • Creating an approach that is built on the premise that to achieve political power and equity within communities of color we must address undemocratic institutional structures head on with coordinated campaigns that achieve scale and build momentum for a new voting rights movement.

Our Approach

Win Systemic Victories By Building a Base. We work with our partners to connect our voting rights and democracy program to the broad work of strengthening the political voice of those in the communities in which we work. Working with Communities United, we helped drive the passage of Same Day Registration (SDR) legislation in the State of Maryland.

Innovative Policy Solutions: We work with strong base-building organizations to move proactive advocacy campaigns at the state level. Our theory is to drive these policies in states where political alignment can be leveraged for policy shifts that promote a more open and equitable electoral and political system. In partnership with Local Progress we hosted a webinar of more than 60 participants to educate local elected officials on voting rights and election reform opportunities in their municipalities.

Building a National Movement: At the heart of building a national voting rights movement is mobilizing and building grassroots base in the fight to strengthen and protect democracy—and we bring that to the landscape by connecting and elevating state and city level campaigns to drive national debate.

News

Vice President Mike Pence claimed during the first meeting on Wednesday of the White House’s...

07/19/2017 | ThinkProgress

WASHINGTON - Progressive leaders delivered more than 230,000 petition signatures Monday urging...

04/26/2017 | Common Dreams

WASHINGTON - Today, the National Working Families Party announced their participation in the Tax...

04/26/2017 | Common Dreams

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facts & figures

93 million

The number of eligible voters who did not vote in the 2012 presidential election.

96 million

The number of residents who were ineligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election.

40%

The percentage of those from households earning less than $50,000 who turned out to vote in the 2012 presidential election.

60%

The percentage of those from households earning more than $75,000 who turned out to vote in the 2012 presidential election.  

...

93 million

The number of eligible voters who did not vote in the 2012 presidential election.

96 million

The number of residents who were ineligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election.

40%

The percentage of those from households earning less than $50,000 who turned out to vote in the 2012 presidential election.

60%

The percentage of those from households earning more than $75,000 who turned out to vote in the 2012 presidential election.  

Largely as a result of historic and newly enacted barriers to voting erected by right-wing policy makers, civic participation in the United States remains dismal compared to other advanced democracies. Low turnout, plus the denial of voting rights to youth, non-citizens, and many formerly incarcerated individuals, means that only 57.5% of eligible voters voted in the 2012 presidential election.

Furthermore, voter turnout is dramatically lower in non-presidential elections. Mayors are often elected with single-digit turnout and scholars estimate that local elections generate an average turnout of approximately 25-30% of the voting age population.

This gap in voting is aggravated by the influence of corporate lobbying and spending on elections and has profound consequences for public policy. A recent study of Congressional votes “reported that legislators were three times more responsive to high-income constituents than middle-income constituents and were the least responsive to the needs of low-income constituents.”