Another Nov. 6 Opportunity: Defending, Expanding Democracy in States

From Florida to Nevada, North Carolina to Colorado, democracy is also on the ballot this critical midterm election year.

From Georgia to North Dakota, the 2018 election has brought another onslaught of voter suppression policies by state and local election administrators. Suppressive policies like Georgia’s “exact match” must be stopped to protect the integrity of democracy.

Electing voting rights champions to state offices this year is essential to achieving this goal, but voters in many states will also have an opportunity to directly defend democracy through ballot initiatives critical to the future of free, fair and modern elections.

Many of these initiatives are focused on expanding voting rights, with efforts to implement automatic voter registration and put an end to partisan gerrymandering. However, not all the news is positive. In North Carolina, conservatives are once again trying to undercut our fundamental right to vote through measures to enact restrictive ID requirements and stack the deck in the Republican Party’s favor on local election boards and the state Supreme Court.

The right’s ongoing assault on democracy in North Carolina is dismaying, but there are many more opportunities to expand (not restrict) democracy and modernize elections across the rest of the country.

We have a tremendous opportunity to build upon this progress to protect democracy and expand voting rights on November 6.

None is more critical than Amendment 4 in Florida, which seeks to restore the ability to vote to persons with felony convictions who have paid their debt to society. Florida is one of four states to deny voting rights to those who have served their time, an explicitly racist policy first implemented in the state’s 1868 constitution. If passed, this amendment would restore the ability to vote to up to 1.6 million disenfranchised Floridians.

There are also exciting opportunities to expand access to voting by modernizing elections. In Michigan, Proposal 3 — also known as Promote the Vote — is a groundbreaking attempt to strengthen voting rights and modernize registration and election systems in a state that has long had outdated voting processes. Question 5 in Nevada would also enable automatic voter registration and shift the current opt-in voter registration system to an opt-out one. Bipartisan experts agree that automatic voter registration saves money and dramatically reduces errors in the voter rolls.

Additionally, the fight against partisan gerrymandering continues with several ballot measures to reform redistricting processes. Amendment 1 in Missouri, Amendments Y and Z in Colorado, and Proposal 2 in Michigan seek to ensure fairly drawn legislative districts through reformed, independent processes.

These reform measures follow recent significant progress toward fair maps in states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, in addition to opportunities to restore balance to redistricting by defeating conservatives in states where GOP dominance has gerrymandered maps.

The momentum for modernizing elections and expanding the right to vote has been clear throughout 2018; according to the Brennan Center, 514 pro-voting bills have been advanced expanding voting rights this year, while only 70 have been introduced restricting voting rights.

We have a tremendous opportunity to build upon this progress to protect democracy and expand voting rights on November 6 by passing these critical ballot measures, defeating North Carolina’s regressive initiatives and electing voting rights champions to legislatures and state offices.