In a democracy, the voice of every voter must be heard and counted, so all of us have an equal say in a democracy of, by, and for the people. Today, we’re still far from realizing this goal, so the Democracy Movement is advancing three mutually reinforcing solutions. 

Voting Rights: Expanding Voting Power

Our vote is our power, the heart of democracy. The Democracy Movement works to remove obstacles so every eligible American can vote and every vote counts

The challenge we face:

In 2016, sixteen million Americans, about 12 percent of voters, faced at least one problem in trying to voting—from long lines to difficulty registering. These problems are one reason the US ranks 26th among 32 industrial countries in voter turnout. But make no mistake: We’re making real progress.

The solutions arising:

Citizens are working both to eliminate unfair barriers to voting and to make voting easier. We’re opposing discriminatory photo ID requirements that discriminate against low-income Americans and citizens of color, and for which there’s no evidence of fraud to justify them. We’re organizing to end cutbacks of polling stations and voting hours in some states, as well as to stop purges of infrequent voters and to end Jim Crow-rooted felon disenfranchisement laws. We’re stepping up to make sure voting machines work and are secure from hackers

Citizen campaigns are also pushing states for automatic registration of voters when citizens interact with government agencies, such as the DMV—with successes so far in more than a dozen states. We’re also working to strengthen voting power via Election Day registration, already with victories in twenty-one states, plus D.C.. Citizens are also striving to expand early-voting and vote-by-mail opportunities, with at least seven states sending every voter a ballot for all elections.

Explanatory video,"An overview of voting rights in the Constitution and in federal legislation."
Stories of people fighting and winning to get their voting rights!

Big $$ Out of Politics: Fair Elections to Free our Democracy from Mega-Rich Donors

When research reveals that average Americans have “near-zero” influence over Washington policy choices while elites hold considerable sway, we know we have work to do.

The challenge we face:

In the 2016, Americans spent a record $6.5 billion on all federal elections, much of it “dark money” from undisclosed sources. Of that huge sum, the top one-tenth of 1 percent of donors contributed twice as much as all the rest of us together. Many Americans might assume there’s not much citizens can do about it, as Supreme Court decisions enable the continuing rise of big-donor funding—most infamously Citizens United in 2010.  Fortunately, this assumption is false.

The solutions arising:

Across America, citizens are organizing for new rules to ensure citizens’ voices—not private wealth—drive our democracy. They’re working to enable candidates to campaign and to win free of big money. Maine and Connecticut have led the way via full public financing for candidates. Today roughly 50 percent of Maine’s and 70 percent of Connecticut’s state legislators won their seats with no big, private donations

Cities are stepping up too. In 2015, Seattle voted to empower citizens as donors in key municipal elections: Each receives four—city-funded—$25 Democracy Vouchers they can donate to their preferred, qualifying candidates. In New York City Council elections, public funds match all small-dollar donations eight-to-one. Denver and Baltimore, as well as three Maryland counties, offer similar public financing programs. Across the country, citizens are also advancing reforms for disclosure of secret money, prohibition of lobbyists “bundled” campaign contributions, and more.

Nationally, citizens are working to advance John Sarbanes’ historic “For the People Act” (HR1) that passed the House in 2019. With 237 co-sponsors, it includes public financing of elections, along with voting-rights protections, and many other reforms included on this site.

Citizens are also working toward amending the constitution to “overturn” Citizens United, clarifying that corporations do not have the rights of citizens. But, because—among other steps— an amendment requires ratification by three-fourths of states, sponsors of this site have chosen now to feature the three “root solutions” that lay the groundwork for such action.

Explanatory video, “An introduction to campaign finance in the United States up to and after Citizens United."
Stories of people fighting and winning campaign finance reforms!

Equal Voice & Transparency: Creating Fairer Rules So Each Vote Carries Equal Weight

On the path toward an equal voice for all citizens we face two, big, barriers: An Electoral College—how we elect our presidents—that can override the people’s will, and rules in most states that enable political parties to draw federal and state district lines in their favor.

The challenge we face:

Each state’s Electoral College votes are typically cast for the winner in that state, not the national winner. As a result, in two of the five most-recent presidential races, the candidate losing the national popular vote became president. Moreover, in presidential elections only a few “swing” states are competitive, making the voices of citizens in all others irrelevant in every election.

Second, when parties draw district lines for partisan gain —called “gerrymandering”—the results can sever the relationship between votes cast and seats won. In the 2018 midterm election in North Carolina, just one example, Democrats received almost half the votes yet won fewer than a quarter of congressional seats. Throughout history parties have been culpable and it’s time to end this anti-democratic practice.

The solutions arising:

With citizens’ leadership, we’re well on our way to a clever and constitutional “work around” to the Electoral College. Called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, states pass a law requiring electors to assign their votes to the national-popular-vote winner, and the system activates as soon as votes of the states on board add up to a majority of Electoral College votes. That magic number? It’s 270, and we’re already at 196. Well over two-thirds of Americans back this plan enabling every American—even those whose party is a minority in their state—to know their vote counts.

And gerrymandering? Citizen initiatives are transferring the power to draw districts from legislators to independent commissions.  California’s redistricting commission gets special praise for reflecting the state’s diversity. Because of a grassroots campaign, in 2018 voters in Michigan adopted an independent redistricting commission by an overwhelming margin, and it will go into effect for the first time in 2021.

Explanatory video, “Gerrymandering Explained - the process of re-drawing district lines."
Stories of people fighting and winning to reform their voting districts!