For Immediate Release
Shin Inouye, Inouye@civilrights.org
More than 150 Civil Rights Groups Demand Comprehensive Voting Rights Reform
“Vision for Democracy” Platform Outlines Concrete Policy Proposals to Realize Truly Representative Democracy
WASHINGTON - The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 150 other civil rights organizations released their policy platform, “Vision for Democracy: Fortifying the Franchise in 2020 and Beyond” today, marking the overwhelming support for comprehensive voting rights reform within the civil rights community. The platform offers concrete policy recommendations to public officials, policy makers, and candidates for the 2020 state and federal elections and proposes a unified vision for ensuring that Americans have a strong, functioning democracy.
The platform outlines six major pillars of reform, including preventing barriers to the ballot box; ending felony disenfranchisement; expanding voter registration; increasing voter participation and access; strengthening election security; and creating structural reform. It also calls on federal elected officials to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act – two major legislative measures proposed in the 116th Congress to kick start comprehensive fixes to our democracy.
“Protecting and strengthening our democracy is one of the most urgent civil rights issues of our time,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Without a democracy that affords fair and equal opportunities for participation to everyone, we cannot make meaningful progress on urgent civil and human rights issues like justice reform, immigration, affordable health care, education equity, and economic security. When our democracy is in peril, so too are our civil rights. This platform offers tangible proposals to ensure every eligible voter, no matter who they are and regardless of their race, color, language, or ability can participate freely in our democracy. Our vote is our voice.”
“Our democracy functions best when all communities are able to participate and have their voices heard,” said Kristen Clarke, president and CEO of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Today, we face threats to our democracy of a kind not witnessed for decades - and, because of technological changes, perhaps never seen before. We face these threats without important statutory protections that have served as a bulwark against voter suppression since 1965, and with a dormant Department of Justice. Vision for Democracy sets forth a comprehensive and robust blueprint for tearing down the obstacles and barriers that, too often, lock out African Americans and other racial minorities from the electoral process. This blueprint is needed more than ever.”
"Our democracy is everyday further imperiled by efforts to reduce participation," said Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF. "Yet, our nation's progress has always been linked to increasing democratic participation, so we must affirmatively create expanded voter opportunity."
“All of our efforts to strengthen democracy in this country fail, unless we get voting right. It is vital that we confront the truth head-on: America’s system of voting is broken and requires urgent repair,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and general counsel of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “At the current moment, our voting system is neither secure, equally accessible, nor fair. The good news is that there are simple and direct solutions to every one of the problems with our voting system. Now all we need is the will, determination and responsible leadership of elected and other public officials to come together and address this crisis.”
To date, these issues have received far too little attention; for example, there have been no questions on voting rights during the Democratic presidential candidate debates, in the lead up to arguably the most pivotal election in our country’s history. In addition to publicly releasing the policy platform, The Leadership Conference shared the Vision for Democracy platform with presidential candidates to offer critical policy guidance for adopting robust voting rights agendas. On the eve of the next Democratic presidential candidate debate, we implore the debate moderators to ask candidates questions about their proposals to build a truly representative democracy that ensures all voices are heard.
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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Through advocacy and outreach to targeted constituencies, The Leadership Conference works toward the goal of a more open and just society – an America as good as its ideals.
The Leadership Conference is a 501(c)(4) organization that engages in legislative advocacy. It was founded in 1950 and has coordinated national lobbying efforts on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957.