The 2014 Voting in America Summit
Friday, June 13th, 2014
Wednesday night, we turned a page in our movement to fix our broken voting system. Bringing together leaders from across the political spectrum — including Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer, former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Congressman John Larson and dozens of voting experts — we renewed the debate about how to reform our voting system.
Former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott started last night’s discussion by explaining his father’s own struggle with the inconvenience of voting. His father started his shift at the shipyard at 7 AM, and often came home either too late or too tired to make it to the polls before closing. Lott advocated mimicking Louisiana’s practice of weekend voting.
Some other highlights:
- Steny Hoyer derided the starving of the Election Assistance Commission. He reminded us of the importance of each and every vote, reflecting on Florida’s 2000 debacle.
- WhyTuesday? co-founder, Norm Ornstein criticized the partisanship of voting officials: “If the referees owned shares of the Miami Heat, the fans would have a problem with it. But that’s how we run our elections.”
- Academics and lawyers walked us through the history of the Voting Rights Act and what is at stake since the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder.
- While many of our panelists expressed frustration about how hard it is to take the partisanship out of electoral reform, our co-founder Bill Wachtel was adamant that when it comes to our most essential right, voting, morality has to trump politics. “LBJ knew that he was handing Republicans the South when he signed the Voting Rights Act, but there’s a reason it’s the Voting Rights Act and not the Voting Rights Bill.”
- John Fund stated in no uncertain terms that he thinks “voting on Tuesday is crazy”, and added that although we need to confront fraud, “This is America. We don’t have to choose between making it easy to vote, and making it hard to cheat.”
- Nicole Austin-Hillery asserted that “Voter fraud would be a nonstarter if we brought our voting system up to par.”
- Maryland State Senator Jamin Raskin emphasized how important it is for citizens to remain vigilant about protecting the right to vote, by reminding us that it’s a right not expressly guaranteed by The Constitution.
- And our wonderful moderator, CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, really hit home when he pointed out that only 8% of eligible voters participated in the shocking Virginia primary that unseated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
We’d like to thank all of our incredible speakers for their spirited debate, But this week’s summit was only the beginning. Together, we will end the deafening silence on our broken voting system.
Watch the full summit below: