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.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight 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

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.