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Fighting for an Inclusive Democracy

American democracy is at a crossroads and the stakes could not be higher. To realize the promise of a representative and inclusive democracy, our electoral system must guarantee every American the right to vote, the power to participate, and elected leadership that is responsive to their constituents and communities, not just corporations and special interest groups. We need to put people and communities at the center of our democracy. 

More than a decade of attacks on voting rights and democratic participation—from Shelby County v. Holder enabling restrictive state...

American democracy is at a crossroads and the stakes could not be higher. To realize the promise of a representative and inclusive democracy, our electoral system must guarantee every American the right to vote, the power to participate, and elected leadership that is responsive to their constituents and communities, not just corporations and special interest groups. We need to put people and communities at the center of our democracy. 

More than a decade of attacks on voting rights and democratic participation—from Shelby County v. Holder enabling restrictive state voter ID laws, to Citizens United allowing partisan gerrymandering—have undermined the core principles of representative democracy. The Trump administration has further emboldened the longstanding conservative agenda to blunt the political power of ordinary citizens and the growing majority of communities of color and young voters. 

This decades-long strategic assault on majoritarian democracy, participation, and collective action has neutered the power of voters our democracy and made government less representative and less responsive to voters and communities.

To repair our broken system and build a truly people-powered democracy, CPD’s Voting Rights & Democracy Program is advancing democracy-expanding structural reforms that shift power to the people and defend the right to vote and participate at every level of government. Together with our state affiliates and national allies, we are building national momentum, as well as state and local leadership for power-shifting structural reforms such as the For the People Act (HR1), the Voting Rights Advancement Act (HR4), and other state and local reforms aimed at 

  • Defending and expanding access to the ballot through innovative reforms like automatic voter registration, same-day registration, online voter registration and voter registration at local agencies and high schools, and by restoring the right to vote for the millions of Americans excluded from democratic participation by felony disenfranchisement laws;

  • Strengthening the voice and power of voters in our elections by fixing our badly broken campaign finance rules with reforms like small-dollar public financing systems that create a broader, more diverse, small-dollar donor base, which enables diverse candidates to run and win competitive campaigns, amplifies the voices of people of color and low- and moderate-income communities, and diminishes the role of large, concentrated campaign contributions;

  • Fighting for a fair count and representative districts by protecting a full and fair count in the 2020 Census, ensuring that redistricting maps are drawn to represent the interests and strength of communities and voters, and ending racial and partisan gerrymandering and incumbent protection practices; and 

  • Deepening participation in our democracy and governance through participatory reforms and organizing efforts that authentically engage voters, communities, and political leaders to create real policy change at the local, state, and national level. 

To achieve these transformative goals, we develop innovative policy solutions that strengthen the right to vote, build power in communities, and expand participation in our democracy. We engage communities of color, immigrant communities, low-income communities, young people, and women to form a progressive coalition with the power to advance game-changing reforms that expand and deepen democratic participation.

 

facts & figures

100+ million

The number of eligible voters who did not vote in the 2016 presidential election.

6.1 million

The number of American citizens disenfranchised from voting due to a former felony conviction. The state of Florida accounts for more than a quarter (27%) of that.  

45%

The number of eligible citizens age 18-24 who are not registered to vote. 57%, of 18-24 year olds did not vote in the 2016 election.

Largely as a result of historic and newly enacted barriers to voting...

100+ million

The number of eligible voters who did not vote in the 2016 presidential election.

6.1 million

The number of American citizens disenfranchised from voting due to a former felony conviction. The state of Florida accounts for more than a quarter (27%) of that.  

45%

The number of eligible citizens age 18-24 who are not registered to vote. 57%, of 18-24 year olds did not vote in the 2016 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. In the 2016 presidential election, only 61% of eligible voters turned out to vote.

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.”

News

News

04.07.2020

MILWAUKEE -- In response to Wisconsin holding elections...

04/7/2020

07.11.2019

WASHINGTON -- Today, the Trump administration announced...

07/11/2019

Infrequent voters – those who vote only (in) presidential elections – are disproportionately...

04/15/2019 | San Jose Spotlight

Small-donor participation in the state is low, which means that large donations wield...

04/2/2019 | New York Magazine

"In the years since the Supreme Court struck down critical protections in the Voting Rights Act...

03/11/2019 | ThinkProgress

03.08.2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the House of Representatives...

03/8/2019

A letter provided to the Times Union was signed by leaders of national liberal groups...

02/11/2019 | Albany Times-Union

Minnesota Attorney General-elect Keith Ellison announced a 36-member transition advisory board...

11/29/2018 | Capitol View

In a recent Center for Popular Democracy report, we detailed examples of youth-focused campaigns...

05/9/2018 | The Huffington Post