They say when one door closes, another door opens. Last year, it felt like the open door to protect and expand federal voting rights was closed when the Senate failed to pass the Freedom to Vote Act. This was a significant blow in the movement to advance voting rights on a national level, and it demonstrated the growing challenges to fight Republican extremism and protect our democracy from election deniers.
But when the going gets tough, we have to keep going. In last year’s midterm elections, voters rejected extremism in key state races and created new opportunities in the fight for our freedom to vote. Since then, sweeping packages to restore, protect, and advance voting rights have been introduced in states across the U.S.
With Congress deadlocked, Stand Up America and our local partners are leading the charge in the states to protect and expand the freedom to vote. Here are a few places we’re making progress right now:
After electing democracy defenders up and down the ballot, Minnesotans put Democrats in control of the state legislature & governorship for the first time in forty years. Now, they’re using the moment to strengthen their democracy and the freedom to vote.
This year, Minnesotans in the We Choose Us coalition partnered with lawmakers to introduce a pro-democracy bill package, the Democracy for the People Act. The package introduces a host of reforms that strengthen voting rights, protect democracy, and help get foreign corporate money out of their elections.
Already, Minnesota legislators have passed part of this legislative package, restoring voting rights to people on probation and parole, touching the lives of 55,000 Minnesotans and their families. If the full Democracy for the People Act passes, it will help bring more eligible Minnesotans onto the voter rolls with automatic voter registration and weaken the power of corporate donors.
Last year, Democratic lawmakers in New Mexico nearly passed a NM Voting Rights Act, but they were blocked at the last minute by stall tactics deployed by MAGA Republicans. Our partners like Organizing in the Land of Enchantment (OLÉ) and Progress Now New Mexico were ready to come back, organize, and pass the New Mexico Voting Rights Act this year.
This sweeping package is critical to removing barriers to the ballot for New Mexicans. If passed the legislation would:
- Restore voting rights for the more than 17,000 New Mexicans locked out of the electoral process by discriminatory felony disenfranchisement laws;
- Give voters more options for how to cast their ballot by allowing them to opt-into a permanent mail-in voting list;
- Improve the state’s automatic voter registration system; and
- Improve ballot access for New Mexico’s Tribal communities.
When your legislative session only lasts three months, you have to get to work fast. Thanks to our partners and Stand Up America members, the legislation quickly passed the New Mexico House and Senate and will be on it’s way to the Governor for signature shortly.
In one of the nation’s key swing states, a state supreme court race is underway, and the results will determine the fate of voting rights, abortion access, and free and fair elections for the next decade.
Wisconsinites have a chance to flip the state supreme court back from conservative control for the first time in 15 years in the race between Judge Janet Protasiewicz and Judge Dan Kelly—which could undo decades of gerrymandering and one of the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion laws. The state supreme court could impact access to the ballot for thousands of Wisonsinites in 2024, since they rule on ballot drop box access, attempted voter purges, and more. Judge Protasiewicz has a long history as a democracy champion and vows to uphold the Wisconsin constitution and protect the freedom to access abortion care. Judge Kelly, however, has ties to the conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election and is endorsed by three of the state’s largest anti-abortion groups.
In the primary election, voters showed up to the polls in record numbers. Now, Stand Up America’s members are writing letters and texting hundreds of thousands of voters in Wisconsin to ensure they turn out for democracy defender Janet Protasiewicz to overturn the state’s abortion ban and protect the freedom to vote in 2024 and beyond.
NEXT ON THE DOCKET
Illinois and Oregon have been working on voting rights restoration for multiple legislative sessions, and this year could be their chance to expand voting access to citizens who are currently incarcerated. Meanwhile, Connecticut and New Jersey are following in New Mexico’s tracks and are working to pass their own state voting rights acts. In New Jersey, advocates continue to push for same day voter registration, which could add over 200,000 voters to the rolls.
And defensive work continues across the country as MAGA Republicans in red and purple states continue their efforts to create barriers to the ballot box, particularly for young voters and voters of color.
But the work happening in Minnesota, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and other states goes to show us that when Congress fails us, we can’t hang up the towel. The fight for voting rights isn’t limited to Washington. Each and every state is a battleground for democracy. With strong state advocates laying the groundwork and securing critical victories, we can protect the freedom to vote from MAGA threats.
Are you ready to support the movement to protect voting rights? Donate now: