You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Automatic Voter Registration.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 21 states have enacted new voting restrictions in the last five years. In 15 of those states, the new laws including voter registration rollbacks to early voting cuts to voter ID requirements will be in effect for the 2016 election.
As these voter disenfranchisements have spread, however, a handful of states are attempting to expand access to the ballot. Oregon passed automatic voter registration in March and California followed suit last week. New Jersey’s legislature sent their bill to the governor’s desk where it awaits his signature.
After Governor Jerry Brown signed the law, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla tweeted an obvious, but apparently necessary declaration: “Democracy is stronger when more citizens can vote!”
As voting rights guru Ari Berman reported at The Nation this week:
"You’d think that would be a truism in a democracy, but unfortunately far too many states under Republican control have enacted new laws making it harder to vote in recent years. From 2011 to 2015, 468 new voting restrictions have been introduced in 49 states...It’s a shame that on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, a quarter of Americans–51 million citizens–are not registered to vote. Let’s hope more states follow the model of California.”
There is a push — lead by the Brennan Center — for national automatic voter registration. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island introduced The Automatic Voter Registration Act this summer and 45 cosponsors have signed on in support. There are also a number of bills circulating through state legislatures that would eliminate the barrier of having to affirmatively register to vote.
Voter expansion has leaked into the presidential race with candidate Hillary Clinton calling for widespread reform and criticizing republican candidates for supporting restrictions. Right now is THE time to raise awareness and push the issue on a national level.
You can find the full list of bills in the Brennan Center’s "Automatic Voter Registration” post which is part of their “Voting Rights and Elections” section of the “Issues” tab at BrennanCenter.org, or by clicking the link in the segment notes. Use ContactingTheCongress.org to drop your national representatives a note asking them to support The Automatic Voter Registration Act and find your state reps at OpenStates.Org to support voter expansion where you live.
Find the Brennan Center for Justice list of Automatic Voter Registration laws
Let your federal legislators know you support the Automatic Voter Registration Act through ContactingTheCongress.org and your state reps know you support voter expansion through automatic registration via OpenStates.Org
Find out if you’re registered to vote at: CanIVote.org
"The Case for Voter Registration Modernization in 2015” via the Brennan Center for Justice
What Alabama Can Learn From California on Voting Rights via Ari Berman at The Nation
"Gov. Brown approves automatic voter registration for Californians” via LA Times
"Dem unveils automatic voter registration bill” via The Hill
"Make It Easy: The Case for Automatic Registration” via Democracy Journal
"Under new Oregon law, all eligible voters are registered unless they opt out” via LA Times
"Hillary's Game-Changing Voting Reform” via the Brennan Center for Justice
Hear the segment in context:
Episode #961 "Working our way toward anti-democracy (Voter Suppression)"
Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich
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