On July 13, 2009, D.C. City Council’s Committee on Government Operations and the Environment held a hearing on the Omnibus Election Reform Act of 2009 (Bill 18-345). Introduced by Councilmembers Mary Cheh, Harry Thomas and Chairman Vincent Gray, the bill includes a variety of FairVote-endorsed election reforms and has strong support from a number of pro-democracy organizations in the District. The bill would allow 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote, permit 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they are eligible to vote in the general election and establish same-day registration. It also expands the eligibility requirements for poll workers and sets up a commission to study the feasibility of automatic voter registration. FairVote has previously argued that Washington, D.C. should be a beacon of democracy, a model for election reform and administration that can serve as a positive example to the rest of the country. FairVote’s Right to Vote Director Adam Fogel testified at the hearing.
Everyone should have the right to vote in free and fair elections regardless of who they are or where they live. To that end, FairVote advocates for enshrining an affirmative right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. In pursuit of that ideal, FairVote works to enact policies at the federal, state, and local levels that are consistent with our conviction that voting is not a privilege, but a right.
D.C. City Council Considers Election Reform
FairVote Provides Testimony and Support
Supreme Court Upholds Voting Rights Act
The Supreme Court on June 22 upheld a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. FairVote applauds the ruling, agreeing with the Court's 8-1 majority that a full and equal right to vote is at the core of our democracy. Although the United States has made significant progress in protecting voting rights, discrimination in voting requires vigorous attention and enforcement. Congress in 2006 overwhelmingly voted to extend voting rights protections after considering plentiful evidence. The Voting Rights Act remains vital to our democracy and to our nation, and the Court's decision preserves that law.
This ruling should inspire further action to enhance protections of the right to vote, with action on proposals like universal voter registration, proportional voting systems and a constitutional right to vote. FairVote also is co-sponsoring a Washington, D.C. conference on the future of voting rights that will be streamed live.
New Report Highlights FairVote Reforms
Barriers to Participation Exist, Despite High Turnout
A new report by the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network, titled, “America Goes to the Polls: A Report on Voter Turnout in the 2008 Election,” highlights the need for several FairVote reforms, including a national popular vote for president, greater uniformity in election administration, instant runoff voting, and universal voter registration. The authors recommend setting federal standards for running elections, introducing ranked choice voting to promote competition and implementing automatic voter registration, where Election Day Registration is a national standard. The report cites FairVote’s “Shrinking Battleground” series that tracks campaign visits and spending throughout the 2008 election cycle, concluding, “the winner-take-all and balkanized dynamics of the Electoral College have a negative impact on voter turnout.” In the forward, George Mason University Professor and Brookings Fellow, Dr. Michael P. McDonald, writes, “a national popular vote for president may hold the key to further increasing American voter participation.”
[America Goes to the Polls]
[FairVote’s Shrinking Battleground]
[National Popular Vote for President]
[Professor McDonald’s U.S. Elections Project]