VOTING AND DEMOCRACY
NETWORK believes it is every citizen’s right and responsibility to participate in the political process. No individual or community should be disenfranchised by federal policy.
Our Catholic faith teaches that we have a responsibility to participate in politics out of a concern for, and commitment to, the good of the community. This responsibility to participate means each person also has a fundamental right to participate, and must be equipped with the resources needed to do so. Our legislators cannot decide that some people are not worthy of participating in democracy. All of our nation’s citizens, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, religion, disability, class, or national origin are entitled to equal protection of this right to vote. However, when states require voter IDs or redraw districts unjustly, not all people are able to participate. The common good cannot be realized, and we will not be a nation “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” until all people have an equal voice at the table.
NETWORK Advocates for Federal Policies That:
Guarantee all citizens their right to participate in the voting process without facing procedural obstacles
Since the establishment of the 15th amendment, guaranteeing African Americans the right to vote, state and local governments have continuously passed discriminatory laws that disenfranchise voters under the guise of reducing voter fraud. Voter ID laws have disproportionately affected people of color, elderly citizens, young voters, low-income citizens, voters who are homeless, and people with disabilities.
Congress must ensure that the 15th and 19th amendments and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are upheld. To make the voting process easier, alternative voting methods such as early voting and vote by mail should be enacted for individuals who cannot vote in person on Election Day.
Simplify the voter registration process and make it as inclusive as possible
Oftentimes, arbitrary deadlines that vary from state to state affect a voter’s ability to register. While “motor-voter” policies enabling registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles have improved access to registration in some states, processes are confusing and confirmation of successful registration can be difficult.
In order to facilitate voting by all citizens, we must make voter registration available to all citizens. Language abilities or remote locations should not be a barrier to voter registration. States should provide election materials in multiple languages and should implement and protect same-day voter registration, which is a method proven to increase voter turnout.
Restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965
In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Shelby County v. Holder that the process for determining which states must undergo federal review before making changes to their voting laws is unconstitutional. This effectively allows states with a history of discrimination toward certain voters to enact new laws and restrictions without accountability. As a result, dozens of new election laws have arisen in the past few years and the burden is on individual voters to prove they have been discriminated against.
We must renew and strengthen the Voting Rights Act to ensure that communities of color and other disenfranchised voters do not continue to be discriminated against in elections.
Draw congressional districts fairly to ensure just representation in election results
Gerrymandering, a partisan way to configure districts that favor a particular party, continues to be an obstacle in achieving fair and representative elections. These practices often consolidate the votes of a particular racial or ethnic group, often dividing towns and neighborhoods in a difficult to understand way.
To achieve representative elections, the Census must be fully-funded and responsibly executed. The responsibility of redistricting should be delegated to independent commissions free of political bias.
Hold members of Congress accountable to their constituents, not donors
Our current election process dramatically weakens the individual’s political power in favor of those with excessive wealth. Politicians seek out financial support from wealthy donors and special interest groups whose interests often are out of tune with the daily reality of most Americans.
Campaign finance must be reformed to increase the power of the individual voter and reduce the power of wealthy donors and special interest groups.
- Fair Voter Identification Laws
- Early Voting and Vote by Mail
- Same Day Voter Registration
- Restoring the Voting Rights Act
- Automatic Voter Registration