OPINION

DNC: 'We’re Going To Continue To Mobilize Against Republican Attacks On Voting'

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 05:  A sign reading, "Se habla Espanol", identifies a bilingual election official as voters go to the polls for Super Tuesday primaries in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights on February 5, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Latinos are an increasingly important factor in California where they are expected to account for 14 percent of the vote and tend to favor presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) over rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). At 44 million, Latinos make up15 percent of the US population, the nation's largest minority group according to the latest Census Bureau estimates.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 05: A sign reading, "Se habla Espanol", identifies a bilingual election official as voters go to the polls for Super Tuesday primaries in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights on February 5, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Latinos are an increasingly important factor in California where they are expected to account for 14 percent of the vote and tend to favor presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) over rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). At 44 million, Latinos make up15 percent of the US population, the nation's largest minority group according to the latest Census Bureau estimates. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)  (2008 Getty Images)

We have a clear vision at the Democratic National Committee — we want every eligible voter to register, every registered voter to vote, and for every vote to be accurately counted. We do this because we believe that voting is a fundamental right and that, no matter who you are, where you’re from, or what party you belong to, you should be able to make your voice heard.

For decades, Democrats have actively fought against cynical Republican attempts to impose unnecessary restrictions on voting. But we’ve always known that it’s not enough to simply be against voting restrictions — we need to go back on the offense and work for more and easier voting.

The DNC Voter Expansion Project will ensure that we are on the offense and that we take into account the specific challenges that the Latino community faces.

- Annette Tadeo

That is why we are launching the Voter Expansion Project, where we are taking action to expand voting opportunities for all.

We are focused on both expanding the vote by creating opportunities for more access and more voters – and protecting the vote by breaking down barriers, demystifying the process and ensuring every vote is counted. Increasing the number of voices heard – and languages heard – is not just good for our party, it’s good for our democracy.

After all, laws that limit who votes affect every household – women, students, the elderly, people of color, and the disabled – and affect citizens in every corner of the nation.

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Latinos are overwhelmingly affected by restricting access to the ballot box, such as laws requiring unnecessary and burdensome documentation or photo IDs. The Latino/Hispanic community comprises more than 10 percent of the country’s eligible voters and about 8 percent of registered voters. In 2010 there were over 21 million Latino citizens of voting age. Out of those 21 million, about 6.3 million people said they were not registered, and 10.8 million said that they don’t vote. Latinos are one of the fastest growing demographic in the United States, and there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to Latino voter registration and voter turnout. The more Americans vote, the better off we are as a country.

But in order to improve Latino turnout, we need to improve the voting experience — to make it easier and more convenient.

We do this through the combination of educating voters, campaign staff and volunteers to make sure they know the rules; engaging with election administrators to make sure they have the resources and training necessary to oversee a fair election; advocating for better laws where we can; and fighting bad laws where we must.

We’re going to continue to mobilize against Republican attacks on voting, such as reducing early voting periods, eliminating same-day registration or voter ID laws that exclude thousands and thousands of Americans — attacks that make it harder for women, elderly, students, people of color and disabled to participate in the process.

We’re also going to advocate for better laws – such as making voter registration easier, making voting more convenient, and making the counting of votes more transparent.  

The Voter Expansion Project builds upon over a decade of experience of mobilizing voters, volunteers and advocates in securing and expanding the franchise. And it will place all of the DNC’s voter advocacy efforts under one roof. The DNC has more institutional knowledge and experience in voter protection than anyone. And only the DNC has the existing infrastructure in the states and team of experts across the country.

But perhaps most important, the DNC will take an innovative approach to voting rights that no longer is content to just defend against Republican efforts to make it more difficult to vote. With the implementation of a permanent program at the DNC, the organization will be committed to playing both offense and defense on behalf of all Americans.

As states like Colorado, Ohio, Arizona, Texas and my own state of Florida, move to institute voter laws that will make it harder for Latinos/Hispanics to cast a ballot, the DNC Voter Expansion Project will ensure that we are on the offense and that we take into account the specific challenges that the Latino community faces.

The DNC is committed to ensuring that more people and in particular, more Latinos, can participate in our democracy and have their voices heard.

Annette Tadeo is the chair of the Miami Dade Democratic Party.

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