“Vision for Democracy” Platform Outlines Concrete Policy Proposals to Realize Truly Representative Democracy

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 150 other civil rights organizations, including the Equal Justice Society, released their policy platform, “Vision for Democracy: Fortifying the Franchise in 2020 and Beyond” today, marking the overwhelming support for comprehensive voting rights reform within the civil rights community.

The platform offers concrete policy recommendations to public officials, policy makers, and candidates for the 2020 state and federal elections and proposes a unified vision for ensuring that Americans have a strong, functioning democracy.

The platform outlines six major pillars of reform, including preventing barriers to the ballot box; ending felony disenfranchisement; expanding voter registration; increasing voter participation and access; strengthening election security; and creating structural reform.

It also calls on federal elected officials to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act – two major legislative measures proposed in the 116th Congress to kick start comprehensive fixes to our democracy.

“Protecting and strengthening our democracy is one of the most urgent civil rights issues of our time,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Without a democracy that affords fair and equal opportunities for participation to everyone, we cannot make meaningful progress on urgent civil and human rights issues like justice reform, immigration, affordable health care, education equity, and economic security. When our democracy is in peril, so too are our civil rights. This platform offers tangible proposals to ensure every eligible voter, no matter who they are and regardless of their race, color, language, or ability can participate freely in our democracy. Our vote is our voice.”

“Our democracy functions best when all communities are able to participate and have their voices heard,” said Kristen Clarke, president and CEO of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Today, we face threats to our democracy of a kind not witnessed for decades – and, because of technological changes, perhaps never seen before. We face these threats without important statutory protections that have served as a bulwark against voter suppression since 1965, and with a dormant Department of Justice. Vision for Democracy sets forth a comprehensive and robust blueprint for tearing down the obstacles and barriers that, too often, lock out African Americans and other racial minorities from the electoral process. This blueprint is needed more than ever.”

“Our democracy is everyday further imperiled by efforts to reduce participation,” said Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF. “Yet, our nation’s progress has always been linked to increasing democratic participation, so we must affirmatively create expanded voter opportunity.”

“All of our efforts to strengthen democracy in this country fail, unless we get voting right. It is vital that we confront the truth head-on: America’s system of voting is broken and requires urgent repair,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “At the current moment, our voting system is neither secure, equally accessible, nor fair. The good news is that there are simple and direct solutions to every one of the problems with our voting system. Now all we need is the will, determination and responsible leadership of elected and other public officials to come together and address this crisis.”

To date, these issues have received far too little attention; for example, there have been no questions on voting rights during the Democratic presidential candidate debates, in the lead up to arguably the most pivotal election in our country’s history. In addition to publicly releasing the policy platform, The Leadership Conference shared the Vision for Democracy platform with presidential candidates to offer critical policy guidance for adopting robust voting rights agendas. On the eve of the next Democratic presidential candidate debate, we implore the debate moderators to ask candidates questions about their proposals to build a truly representative democracy that ensures all voices are heard.

The platform in its entirety can be viewed here. The list of endorsing organizations is listed below. For more information, visit civilrights.org/votingrights.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
A. Philip Randolph Institute
Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS)
Advancement Project
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
African American Ministers In Action
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Federation of Teachers
American Humanist Association
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)
Americans for Indian Opportunity
Andrew Goodman Foundation
Arab American Institute
Arizona Coalition for Change
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF)
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
Blue Future
Brave New Films
Campaign for America’s Future
Campaign for Youth Justice
Campaign Legal Center
Catholic Network US
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Center for Popular Democracy
Center for Science and Democracy – Union of Concerned Scientists
Clean Elections Texas
Coalition on Human Needs
Colorado Civic Engagement Roundtable
Common Cause
Common Cause Minnesota
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces
DC Vote
Demand Universal Healthcare
Demos
Disability Rights Florida
End Citizens United Action Fund
Entre Hermanos
Equal Justice Society
Equality California
Fair Elections Center
Faithful America
Fix Democracy First
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda
Government Information Watch
Greenpeace USA
Health in Justice Action Lab, Northeastern University School of Law
Hindu American Foundation
Hip Hop Caucus
Hispanic Federation
Hispanics in Philanthropy
Human Rights Campaign
Impact Fund
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
Indivisible
Innocence Project
Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc.
Japanese American Citizens League
Lambda Legal
Latino Community Fund Georgia (LCF Georgia)
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
League of Conservation Voters Education Fund
League of Women Voters of the United States
Matthew Shepard Foundation
Media Mobilizing Project
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
Million Hoodies Movement for Justice
Missouri Immigrant & Refugee Advocates

MomsRising
Muslim Public Affairs Council
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
NAACP – Tennessee
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Association of Social Workers
National Association of Social Workers (NASW) California Chapter
National Association of Social Workers Michigan Chapter
National Bar Association
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Congress of American Indians
National Council of Churches
National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)
National Council of Jewish Women
National Education Association
National Fair Housing Alliance
National Immigration Law Center
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Women’s Law Center
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
New American Leaders Action Fund
New Jersey Institute for Social Justice
New York Immigration Coalition
North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT)
North Carolina Council of Churches
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
Organize Florida
People For the American Way
PFLAG National
Pinellas County Urban League
Planned Parenthood Action Fund
PolicyLink
Pretrial Justice Institute
Progressive Turnout Project
Public Citizen
RepresentUs
Rise Up America
Service Employees International Union
Sierra Club
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
Silver State Equality – Nevada
Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN)
SisterReach

SMART Elections
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund
Spread The Vote
Stand Up America
State Voices
Texas Civil Rights Project
Transformative Justice Coalition
UnidosUS
Union for Reform Judaism
United Church of Christ
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
Virginia Civic Engagement Table
Virginia Organizing
Voices for Progress
Voting Rights Forward
Voting Rights Institute
Voto Latino
We Vote United
Win|Win Network
Wisconsin Voices
YWCA Berkeley/Oakland
YWCA USA
20/20 Vision
334 East 92nd Street Tenant Association
9to5, National Association of Working Women

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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit http://www.civilrights.org.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 56th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights. For more information, please visit http://www.lawyerscommittee.org.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community,” MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: http://www.maldef.org.

Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multidisciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.