A letter to Senators and Representatives:
“On behalf of our organizations representing tens of millions of Americans, we strongly endorse the Freedom to Vote Act and call on Congress to pass this transformative pro-voter, anti-corruption bill…”
We have reached a pivotal juncture in our country’s long journey toward a fully inclusive democracy. Congress’s failure to pass the transformational reforms in the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act (“FTV Act”) in January of 2022 left our elections vulnerable to threats on multiple fronts.
While challenges to our democracy accelerate, voters continue to demonstrate that legislation to address these threats remains a top priority across party lines.
A two-page description of the DFAD Coalition, our mission, and why this is the time to enact the For the People Act (HR1).
The Freedom to Vote Act improves access to the ballot for Americans, advances commonsense election integrity reforms, and protects our democracy from emerging threats.
The Freedom to Vote Act includes a voluntary, small donor matching funds system for House candidates.
Representative John Sarbanes (@RepSarbanes) tells us about the transformational power of the #ForThePeopleAct (#HR1). @DFADCoalition DFADCoalition.org
Sr. Simone Campbell (@sr_simone, @NETWORKLobby) shares how the #ForThePeopleAct (#HR1) addresses the root causes of so many of the issues we face. @DFADCoalition DFADCoalition.org
Justin Kwasa (@LCV) shares why having a healthy environment means having a democracy that works — a democracy that we can build by passing the #ForThePeopleAct (#HR1). @DFADCoalition DFADCoalition.org
Veterans speak about their dedication to our democracy — and the need to uphold free, fair, and secure elections. @DFADCoalition DFADCoalition.org
Across the country, at every level of government, on both sides of the political divide — election officials pled for more support in the lead-up to the 2020 elections. @DFADCoalition DFADCoalition.org
Candidates shouldn’t be able to hold on to their campaign funds indefinitely. @DFADCoalition’s Aswar Rahman shares how — and why — the #ForThePeopleAct (#HR1) puts a 6-year expiration date on political funds raised. @DFADCoalition DFADCoalition.org
Isn’t vote by mail awesome? @DFADCoalition’s Aswar Rahman shares how the #ForThePeopleAct (#HR1) will make vote by mail accessible to every voter in America. @DFADCoalition DFADCoalition.org
4.20.20 | Protect Our Vote Kick-Off
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA
Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman (R-WA)
Jana Morgan, Director – Declaration for American Democracy
Max Feldman, Counsel – Brennan Center for Justice
Vanita Gupta, President & CEO – The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Michelle Bishop, Voting Rights Specialist – National Disability Rights Network
Karen Hobert Flynn, President – Common Cause
Debra Cronmiller, Executive Director – League of Women Voters of Wisconsin
Rio Tazewell, Senior Campaigns Manager – People For the American Way
Christine Wood, Democracy Organizer – Public Citizen
Brett Edkins, Political Director – Stand Up America
Also participating, representatives from:
Alliance for Youth Action
Let America Vote / End Citizens United Action Fund
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
Union of Concerned Scientists
4.23.20 | Protect Our Vote Maine
Senator Angus King (I-ME)
Alison Beyea, Executive Director – Maine ACLU
Kathy Montejo, Lewiston City Clerk
Lori Parham, Executive Director – Maine AARP
Robyn Merrill, Executive Director of Maine Equal Justice
Anna Kellar, League of Women Voters of Maine and Maine Citizens for Clean Elections
4.27.20 | Protect Our Vote North Carolina
U.S. Representative David Price
U.S. Representative G. K. Butterfield
U.S. Representative Alma Adams
North Carolina State Senator Jay Chaudhuri
Marcus Bass, Executive Director of NC Black Alliance
Tomas Lopez, Executive Director of Democracy North Carolina
Bob Phillips, Executive Director of Common Cause NC
Melissa Price Kromm, Director of North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections
5.1.20 | Protect Our Vote Arizona
U.S. Representative Greg Stanton
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs
U.S. Representative Raúl Grijalva
Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes
More to come…
Randy Perez, Democracy Director of LUCHA Arizona
5.6.20 | Protect Our Vote Colorado
U.S. Senator Michael Bennet
U.S. Representative Jason Crow
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold
Hon. Wayne Williams, Former Colorado Secretary of State
Nicole Hensel, Executive Director of New Era Colorado
Tamra DeBrady, President, Colorado Black Women for Political Action
Dusti Gurule, Executive Director, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights
Dr. Toni Larson, Director, Action & Advocacy, League of Women Voters of Colorado
Andrea Wilkins, League of Women Voters Colorado
5.20.20 | Protect Our Vote Georgia
US Representative Sanford Bishop, D-GA-2
Georgia State Rep. Bee Nguyen, D-89
Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon, D-58
Georgia State Sen. Harold Jones, D-22
Cindy Battles, Program Coordinator, Common Cause Georgia
Wanda Mosley, Senior State Coordinator, Georgia, Black Voters Matter
Esther Lim, Organizing and Civic Engagement Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta
Umer Rupani, Executive Director, Georgia Muslim Voter Project
Susannah Scott, President, League of Women Voters of Georgia
Aklima Khondoker, Georgia State Director, All Voting is Local
6.9.20 | Protect Our Vote Rally
• House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
• Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, II, Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
• Dolores Huerta Labor Activist and Civil Rights Leader
• Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
• Wendy Fields, Executive Director, Democracy Initiative
• Rev. Leslie Watson Wilson, Director of African American Religious Affairs, People For the American Way
• Jennifer Epps-Addison, Network President and Co-Executive Director, Center for Popular Democracy
• Leigh Chapman, Voting Rights Program Director, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
• Jana Morgan, Director, Declaration for American Democracy
8.11.20 | Protect Our Vote Town Hall
Our elections are under threat. People must be able to vote safely in November. Yet, Senate Republicans are blocking key funding needed to #ProtectOurVote. Join us on August 11 7:30-8:30pm ET for a virtual town hall with Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, Congressman John Sarbanes and movement leaders to discuss why funding for safe elections must be included in the next COVID package, and what citizens can do to make themselves heard.
Despite COVID cases rising, the Senate Republicans proposed $0 for critical funding needed to #ProtectOurVote. No one should have to choose between their health and their vote.
U.S. Representative Joyce Beatty
U.S. Representative John Sarbanes
Hilary Shelton, Washington Bureau Director & Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy | NAACP
Leigh Chapman, Voting Rights Program Director | The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Wendy Fields, Executive Director | Democracy Initiative
Karen Hobert Flynn, President | Common Cause
10.17.20 | Democracy Day 1: Protecting Your Vote and Your Voice
This year’s election is the most consequential of our lifetimes – yet Americans face historic barriers to voting. Join the Declaration for American Democracy on Wednesday, October 7th to learn ways to fight back against these obstacles, make a plan to vote, and make your voice heard.
From 7-8pm EST we will hear from election protection experts who will provide you with the necessary tools to vote safely this year.
Then, from 8-9pm EST we will hold a *couch-party* where partners from When We All Vote will lead participants in a textathon to text 500,000 Americans make a plan to vote.
During this event we’ll hear from Rep. John Sarbanes on the transformative “For the People Act” (HR1) and how it can transform our democracy, and make the case for why the next administration must make democracy reform a first priority on day one.
To make progress on the issues that we care most about, such as health care, racial justice, reproductive rights, and the environment, we must build a system that serves the people rather than wealthy donors. Congress must pass the #FreedomToVoteAct. pic.twitter.com/lg3kmym7b1— Declaration for American Democracy - (@DFADCoalition) July 27, 2023
What would the Freedom to Vote Act achieve?
The Freedom to Vote Act is a bold and transformative legislative package that would create national standards to protect our freedom to vote, get big money out of politics, combat partisan election subversion, and guarantee that congressional districts are drawn to give fair representation for all.
Together we can realize a democracy that represents, reflects, and responds to all of us.
Protects Our Freedom to Vote
- Automatic Voter Registration and Online Voter Registration: Enacts an automatic voter registration system for each state through the state’s motor vehicle agency and ensures voters in all states have access to online voter registration.
- Election Day Holiday: Makes Election Day a public holiday.
- Uniform Early Voting: Ensures voters have access to at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections, including two weekends, while accommodating small election jurisdictions and vote-by-mail jurisdictions.
- Same Day Voter Registration: Ensures every state offers same day registration at a limited number of locations for the 2022 elections and at all polling locations by 2024, allowing election officials, especially in rural areas, time to implement the new requirements.
- Federal Minimum Standards on Vote by Mail and Drop Boxes: Ensures all voters can request a mail-in ballot, improves the delivery of election mail, and puts in place minimum standards to ensure drop boxes are available and accessible to all voters.
- Strengthens Voter List Maintenance Standards: Requires that the removal of voters from the rolls is done on the basis of reliable and objective evidence and prohibits the use of returned mail sent by third parties to remove voters.
- Counting of Provisional Ballots: Requires provisional ballots to count for all eligible races within a county, regardless of the precinct they were cast in.
- Standards for Voter Identification: Promotes voter confidence and access by requiring a uniform national standard for states that requires identification for in-person voting, and allowing voters to present a broad set of identification cards and documents in hard copy and digital form.
- Voting Rights Restoration for Returning Citizens: Restores the right to vote in federal elections for people who have served their time for felony convictions after they are released from prison.
- Expanded Voting Access Protections for the Disabled, Native Americans, Military, Overseas Voters, and Underserved Communities: Includes targeted protections to promote accessible voting to communities facing unique challenges.
Ensures Fair Representation in Government
- Bans Partisan Gerrymandering: Prevents states from adopting congressional maps that unduly favor a political party. Maps will be measured against concrete numerical thresholds for each state, created by political scientists using quantitative metrics of partisan fairness. Courts will also be able to look broadly at the maps and mapmakers’ intent to determine whether they are unduly favoring a political party.
- Strengthens Protections for Communities of Color: By bolstering Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, requiring districts be drawn to represent communities of interest, including communities that share racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Requires States to Adopt Transparent and Fair Processes for Maps: Allows states to enact redistricting plans using their legislature, a commission, or any other entity — provided they hold public hearings, accept public input, adhere to transparency requirements, and explain how final plans adhere to the Voting Rights Act and the ban on partisan gerrymandering.
- Takes Effect Immediately and Applies to All 2022 Maps: Prevents any unfair maps ahead of the 2022 elections, and courts may not allow an illegal map to be used simply because an election is imminent. Any resident may sue their state in federal court for violating the redistricting provisions, and if the court finds the law has been violated, it may either draw a new map or require the state to redraw its map.
Reduces the Influence of Big Money in Politics
- Combatting Secret Money and Election Interference (DISCLOSE Act and Honest Ads Act): Requires super PACs, 501(c)(4) groups, and other organizations spending money in elections to disclose donors and shuts down the use of transfers between organizations to cloak the identity of contributors. Ensures that political ads sold online have the same transparency and disclosure requirements as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite.
- State Election Assistance & Innovation Fund: Establishes a self-sustaining fund to finance critical investments in state-led innovations for our democracy and election infrastructure. The fund is financed through an additional assessment paid on federal fines, penalties, and settlements for certain tax crimes and corporate malfeasance. States would be allotted an annual distribution for eligible democracy and election-related investments. States could select to access their full distribution or a partial distribution, or roll over their distribution for future use.
- Nonpartisan Oversight of Federal Election Law: Improves the ability of the Federal Election Commission to carry out oversight and enforcement responsibilities.
- Stopping Illicit Super PAC Coordination: Creates “coordinated spender” category to ensure single-candidate super PACs do not operate as arms of campaigns.
Combats Partisan Election Subversion
- Preventing State Election Subversion: Establishes federal protections to insulate nonpartisan state and local officials who administer federal elections from undue partisan interference or control.
- Protection of Election Records, Election Infrastructure, and Ballot Tabulation: Strengthens protections for federal election records and election infrastructure in order to protect the integrity and security of ballots and voting systems.
- Voter-Verified Paper Ballots, Reliable Audits, and Voting System Upgrades: Requires states to use voting systems that use paper ballots that can be verified by voters and to implement reliable post-election audits. Also provides grants for states to purchase new and more secure voting systems and make cybersecurity improvements.
- Non-Partisan Election Official Recruitment and Training: Tasks the Election Assistance Commission with developing model training programs to recruit a new generation of election workers and provides dedicated grants for training and recruitment.
- Comprehensive Voting System Security Protections: Puts in place election vendor cybersecurity standards, including standards for manufacturing and assembling voting machines, among other key security measures.
- Establishing Duty to Report Foreign Election Interference: Creates a reporting requirement for federal campaigns to disclose certain foreign contacts.
What is the Declaration for American Democracy?
A Coalition of 260+ Member Organizations
The Declaration for American Democracy is an anti-oppression coalition working together to make the promise of democracy real for all of us.
We believe our democratic systems, institutions, and leaders must reflect, represent, and respect the diverse, multicultural nation that we are and have always been. For democracy to work for all of us, it must include all of us and address the deep systemic, institutional challenges that continue to block meaningful progress to this day. As America’s diversity continues to grow, so must our democracy.
Today our democracy faces crises on multiple fronts -- compounded by a deeply problematic history that has held us back from achieving an inclusive and equitable multiracial nation since our founding. Powerful corporations and wealthy special interests use their money and influence to shape public policy priorities. Extremist politicians are putting up deliberate barriers to block access to the ballot box and silence the voices of Black, Brown, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI, low-income, LGBTQIA, disability, and other marginalized communities. State legislatures are manipulating Congressional maps to allow politicians to pick their voters and hoard power for their political parties. And our government has failed to respond after four years of a corrupt administration and Supreme Court decisions gutting voting rights protections and anti-corruption laws.
Working together, we are committed to passing national standards, including the Freedom to Vote Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC Statehood, to transform our political system and move our country closer to realizing the true promise of democracy. However, we will not be satisfied with any single reform and will continue to press for the structural changes necessary to rebalance power for the people and undo the historic harms that have barred communities that have been marginalized and denied political power since the founding of the United States.
We believe people of color, young people, people with disabilities, language minorities, and other historically disenfranchised communities should have equal access to the ballot and be equitably represented in government. We believe everyday people should have a stronger voice in elections than wealthy donors and special interests. And we believe our government should be transparent and accountable to the people.
Together we must ensure the freedom to vote is a fundamental American right and that the people -- regardless of our color, our background, or our zip code - hold the power, not the wealthy and corporations.
Therefore, we, the Declaration for American Democracy, are committed to working together to achieve this vision and model our values in how we work together. As a coalition, we will invest in each other and treat each other with respect. We will acknowledge and learn from our past, including the legacy of racism and white supremacy in our movement and democratic institutions. In decision making we will center Black, Brown, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI, LGBTQIA, people with disabilities, language minorities, as well as other impacted communities. And we will invest in each other through professional development, collaborative grantmaking, and shared projects.