While supporters of pro-democratic voting reforms on Wednesday celebrated a number of key state-level wins on Election Day, the Democratic Party is being called upon to go much further by making voting rights a central issue going forward and embracing a slate of changes that would dramatically improve civic participation and end GOP suppression tactics.
Among the successes from Tuesday’s ballot:
Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a measure which restores voting rights for 1.4 million state residents with past felony convictions.
Michigan voters approved a measure enacting automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration.
Voters in Nevada also approved automatic voter registration.
In Maryland, voters supported a state constitutional amendment allowing same-day voter registration.
The outcomes, says the NYU School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice, add up to “a massive win for democracy.” But these changes still leave in place an electoral system—one plagued by long lines, voter suppression efforts, malfunctioning machines, Big Money, and partisan redistricting—badly in need of reform.
“Where does democracy go from here?” ask the Brennan Center’s Zachary Roth and Michael Waldman. They continue:
“Despite Tuesday’s good news, we have so much more to do to strengthen our democracy,” they conclude. “Let’s get to work.”
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OtherWords editor Peter Certo urged Democrats to step up to that task by supporting “a host of radical pro-democracy reforms.”
“In that they can take inspiration from a stunning movement in Florida, where voters re-enfranchised over 1 million of their neighbors with felony convictions. And from Michigan, Colorado, Utah, and Missouri, which all passed initiatives to support citizen-led redistricting. And from Maryland, Michigan, and Nevada, which all made voter registration easier,” he wrote.
Offering his post-midterm advice to the Democratic leaders on Wednesday, Washington Post contributor Ronald A. Klain said they should make it a top priority to pass “a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act and reverse Republican voter-suppression efforts. The cause of democracy should not be carried by Democrats alone, but that is what it has come to. The greatest democracy in the world should not be the one where it is hardest to participate in the democratic process.”
One way to make that easier would be making Election Day a federal holiday—an idea backed by more than half the country.
The calls come on the heels of the newly-launched Declaration for American Democracy’s vow to “work collectively to create and pass a series of fundamental reforms to rebalance our moneyed political system, empower everyday Americans, ensure equal justice for all, protect the public’s right to know, reduce barriers to participation in our elections, vigorously enforce voting laws, and fix our ethics laws.”
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