The news on voting rights has been so bleak, so the DNC’s announcement yesterday was welcome news.
Vice President Kamala Harris made the announcement that the DNC was investing $25 million into a voting rights initiative. The significance of her giving her speech at Howard University, her alma mater and a historically black college, was also an important message to send.
VP Harris: “We want to help to make sure your vote is counted, and that is because our democracy is strongest when everyone participates and … our democracy as a nation is weaker, when people are left out.”
This initiative is specifically geared towards voter education, targeted voter registration, and assembling a team to make sure voters are protected on Election Day and not intimidated by malicious election officials or partisan “poll watchers.”
Now, while I definitely saw a lot of cheering over this decision yesterday, I also saw a fair amount of criticism lobbed towards this new initiative.
Here’s my take: Taken by itself, I completely understand the critics who say that this initiative is simply not enough and just a band-aid. But here’s the thing, this initiative doesn’t stand alone. This is in addition to the other $20 million the DNC announced for it’s “I Will Vote” campaign.
We’ve also got the DOJ actively suing states who are passing voter suppression laws, and assembling a task force to look into any past threats on elections officials. Priorities USA, the largest Democratic super-PAC, has already pledged $20 million to fight voter suppression efforts.
Taken all together, there are a lot of big efforts to take on these laws by going through the court system, discouraging bad behavior by going after any criminal behavior from this past election, and keeping our eye on the ball by registering and educating voters RIGHT NOW and making sure they can vote in the upcoming elections.
The piece that we’re still missing, of course, is the proactive federal legislation that can rescind some of the recent actions in the states and give the federal government the power to level the playing field, as it were. One of my own Senators, Jeff Merkley, is one of the leaders in the Senate on getting our voting rights legislation passed, and I can tell you that the work behind the scenes is ongoing. I don’t know yet if we’ll have another vote coming up soon, but voting rights is still very much on the table.
I’d like to finish by encouraging you to take a few minutes this weekend exploring the DNC’s Take Action page — they’ve got ways you can plug in to help get more Democrats in office and they also offer trainings! You can find that page HERE.