THE DEMOCRACY PROJECT
The integrity of our democracy and the ability of American citizens to participate in the electoral process is being jeopardized by a number of pressing factors and growing threats.
By controlling how districts on the state and federal level are drawn, lawmakers can diminish the electoral power of groups of voters for political gain — a process known as gerrymandering. Rather than districting along county lines, historic community boundaries, or natural features like rivers, gerrymandering singles out voters based on their likely political affiliation.
For many states, the redistricting process lacks transparency and results in the disenfranchising of vulnerable populations – typically impoverished communities and communities of color. In Texas, the federal and state districts were drawn behind closed doors with one lawmaker involved in the process commenting they would gerrymander to “ensure Anglo control.”
As long as politicians can pick and choose who is allowed to vote for them, our democracy and the integrity of our elections will suffer. The politicians who benefit and depend on gerrymandering are fierce proponents of the practice, which is why it is so important to provide support for the organizations and efforts working to end the practice for good.
Another powerful force that has diminished the voice of the American people in the electoral process is the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United.
As a result of the ruling, Super PACs and dark money groups are allowed to spend unlimited sums in elections, many of which are not required to disclose their donors. Year after year, spending records are broken by PACs and groups seeking to influence the political process.
All the while, the ability for the average American to influence elections and make their voice heard is greatly diminished. Until loopholes are closed, donor disclosures are mandated, and spending caps are put into place, PACs will continue to play an outsized role in the electoral process.
The right to vote is both fundamental and sacred to our democracy. Rather than expanding access and driving participation in the process, many lawmakers are spearheading efforts to do the exact opposite.
By restricting early voting times, increasing the requirements needed to vote, banning automatic voter registration, and routinely purging the polls of voters who haven’t cast a vote in the recent elections, lawmakers can tilt elections in favor of a preferred outcome by limiting who can vote.
In North Carolina, for example, a federal appeals court found that a state law restricting early voting and requiring a photo ID to vote would, “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”Lawmakers who support such measures often try to justify them by citing some of the patently false myths surrounding alleged voter fraud.
The fight to secure the right to vote for all Americans is centuries in the making. At a time when efforts to disenfranchise eligible voters are intensifying, it is more important than any time in recent memory to get involved and shine a light on these measures.
Your support allows us to give to local organizations the tools they need to end gerrymandering, overturn the effects of Citizens United, and protect the constitutional right of every American to vote.