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.
While the world’s most famous democracy ranks 138th out of 172 countries in the world in voter turnout, there remains a deafening silence in Washington about the critical condition of our voting system.
We’re determined to change that. So this week we kick-off a new chapter for Why Tuesday?. Join us today for a summit on election reform, and stay tuned for a new grassroots platform to push for a renewed debate.
WhyTuesday is sponsoring a summit along with The Hill brining together academics, thought leaders, and legislators from across the political spectrum.
“We can fix this, and we will,” said President Obama during his 2013 State of the Union address about the long lines, low turnout and deceptive practices that plague America’s broken voting system. But now its up to all of us—from both parties—to make it happen, especially after horrendously low 2014 voter turnout. That’s why we’ve launched FixIt.WhyTuesday.org to help track and contact your legislators on election reform.
Let’s be clear: Why Tuesday? opposes restrictive voting laws, including strict photo ID laws. Since its founding, Why Tuesday? has sought to stimulate debate about ways to make voting easier. Adding photos to social security cards is one idea for alleviating burdens on the right to vote—it thus deserves the robust conversation it has inspired. Other reforms are similarly worthy of our immediate attention, including moving Election Day to the weekend, instituting a federal early voting period, creating a universal voter registration system, mandating Election Day registration and updating our country’s electronic voting equipment. Why Tuesday? welcomes a national dialogue about these ideas—and more—as we approach the 2014 elections.
We want to hear what you think! Share your opinions, questions and reform proposals with us on Twitter and on our Facebook page.
This week at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Library in Austin, our chairman and co-founder Ambassador Andrew Young proposed adding a photo to Social Security cards in order to push back on restrictive voter ID laws being enacted in the United States. Former United States Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter endorsed the idea. President Clinton, as quoted in the Washington Post:
The idea behind this agreement is to find a way forward that eliminates error and makes the best possible decision that we can all live with. It is not to paralyze and divide a country with significant challenges.