Access to the Ballot Box Is Under Assault. But This November Voters Can Fight Back.

Ballot initiatives in seven states would make it easier to vote and harder to gerrymander.

The right to vote has taken a lot of hits in recent years. Since the 2010 election, 23 states have adopted new restrictions on voting, such as stricter voter ID laws, cutbacks to early voting, and aggressive purging of voter rolls. This week, the Supreme Court upheld a voter ID law in North Dakota that could prevent thousands of Native Americans from voting, and the Associated Press reported that Georgia is blocking 53,000 voter registration applications, 70 percent of which are from African Americans.

But despite widespread voter suppression efforts, 2018 could actually be a huge year for expanding voting rights. Initiatives on the ballot in seven states in next month’s midterm elections would make it easier for people to vote and harder for states to gerrymander political districts.

The biggest initiative is in Florida, which hasn’t always been a paragon of respectability when it comes to running smooth and fair elections. Voters there appear to be on the verge of restoring voting rights to 1.4 million ex-felons.

Florida is one of only four states that prevent ex-felons from voting even after they’ve paid their debt to society. This felon disenfranchisement law, which dates back to the Jim Crow era, blocks 10 percent of Floridians from voting, including one in five African Americans. But a ballot initiative called Amendment 4 would repeal this law. That would lead to the largest increase in new voters in the state since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In three other states—Maryland, Michigan, and Nevada—there are ballot initiatives to make registering to vote easier, through reforms like Election Day registration and automatic voter registration. In four states—Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, and Utah—voters will also decide whether to crack down on gerrymandering by drawing political districts in a nonpartisan way.

As I explain in this video for Mother Jones, these initiatives will go a long way toward determining what the country’s voting laws will look like in 2020—and could help decide who the next president will be.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate