Every Voter Counts
The ability to vote – to have a part in choosing the elected officials whose decisions impact our lives, families, communities, and country – is at the core of our democracy and what it means to be an American. Every American should have a voice in issues that affect them. Every voter counts. But under the guise of preventing so-called “voter fraud” and working in conjunction with advocacy groups, some governors and state legislators have passed laws making it harder for millions of Americans – especially students, seniors, and people of color – to register and to vote.
The Leadership Conference Education Fund, working with allies at the local, state, and national levels, is implementing a campaign to elevate and sustain a focus on voter protection and turnout; to strengthen the ability of individuals and organizations to overcome barriers to the right to vote; and to increase voter turnout among underrepresented populations that are the targets of voter suppression efforts.
FACT SHEET: A Campaign to Protect Access to the Polls and Encourage Voter Participation in 2012 (PDF)
September 8, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Last week, the Fair Elections Legal Network released a report detailing how the voting rights of many people with foreclosed homes may be in danger this election cycle unless Secretaries of State in each state take action.
June 16, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
The explosion of the prison population in recent decades is enabling towns where the prisons are located to unjustly increase their political power by counting inmates as legal residents, according to "Captive Constituents," a new report by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF).
March 29, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau, recently testified before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties and urged Congress to pass the Democracy Restoration Act.
December 14, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
The American Bar Association, American Civil Liberties Union, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Drug Policy Alliance, and The Sentencing Project are urging Congress to pass legislation that would restore the right to vote in federal elections to formerly incarcerated citizens.
December 10, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
The Leadership Conference President and CEO Wade Henderson shaking hands with other guests at the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights' annual International Human Rights Day program on December 10, 2009.
The Leadership Conference's president and CEO, Wade Henderson, received the Cornelius R. "Neil" Alexander Humanitarian Award today from the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights and the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights for his commitment to advancing the civil and human rights of all Americans.
"The fact that this award commemorates Neil Alexander means a great deal to me. As the human rights commission's chief hearing officer for 20 years, Neil Alexander was a tireless and largely unsung champion of civil and human rights. Our city and the struggle for equal justice benefitted immensely from his legal expertise and his leadership in enforcing the District's human rights law," Henderson said in his acceptance speech.
October 14, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
(l to r) Andrea Roane of WUSA-9 News, DC Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka, LCCR Executive Vice President Nancy Zirkin, LCCR President and CEO Wade Henderson, and DC Vote Board Chair Bruce Spiva
Last night, LCCR President and CEO Wade Henderson and LCCR Executive Vice President Nancy Zirkin were honored by DC Vote for their efforts to pass D.C. voting rights legislation.
Henderson, Zirkin and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, D. Mich., were presented with 2009 Champions of Democracy Awards for their "dedication to fulfilling the promise of democracy for the Americans who call Washington, D.C., home." DC Vote also presented Akridge Real Estate, a Washington commercial real estate firm, with its Corporate Partnership Award.
In accepting the honor, Henderson, a D.C. native, emphasized the importance of continuing the fight to secure full voting representation in Congress for the District. "For all the progress we've made in D.C. and as a nation, my hundreds of thousands of neighbors in this city and I have been mere spectators to our democracy for more than 200 years. And that won't change as long as citizens of the District of Columbia continue to be deprived of the most important civil right that Americans have: the right to vote," said Henderson.
"This year, we came closer than we've ever been to securing voting rights for the residents of the District of Columbia...we still have a long way to go. But with your help and the efforts of DC Vote and the civil rights community, we'll get there," said Zirkin.
September 22, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
The law, which is the most restrictive voter ID law in the United States, requires Indiana voters to present a government-issued photo ID, such as a state driver's ID or a U.S. passport, to cast a ballot. Provisional ballots are available to voters who don't bring a photo ID to the poll, but a provisional ballot will be counted only after the voter provides proof of identity at the local county election office within 10 days of the election.
In addition, driver's licenses and state-issued IDs must be renewed periodically, and people must re-register to vote whenever they move or change their name or the ID is not valid for voting.
A recent study conducted by the Washington Institute for Ethnicity and Race found that the highest percentages of eligible Indiana voters without a valid photo ID were minorities, seniors, young people, less-educated people, and low-income people. Proponents of voter ID laws say that the laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud. However, the study found no instances of voter fraud in Indiana.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the law does not violate the U.S. Constitution. The appeals court looked at a different question – whether the law violated the Indiana state constitution. Even though the law does not violate federal law, it does violate state law. The state will likely seek a stay of the appellate court decision, delaying action until it comes under review by the Indiana State Supreme Court.
LCCR President Wade Henderson and LCCR Executive Vice President Nancy Zirkin among DC Vote's 2009 Champions of Democracy Awardees
September 17, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
DC Vote has selected LCCR President Wade Henderson and LCCR Executive Vice President Nancy Zirkin as recipients of its 2009 Champions of Democracy Award for their commitment to achieving full democracy for the District of Columbia.
In announcing the award, DC Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka said Zirkin and Henderson's "exemplary dedication to civil and human rights issues is apparent through their tireless work to pass D.C. voting rights legislation. They have been loyal champions of this cause, and we are extremely appreciative of their efforts."
Henderson and Zirkin will be honored with fellow awardees Rep. John Conyers, D. Mich., and Alkridge Real Estate at the Champions of Democracy Awards Dinner on October 13 in Washington, D.C.
Champions of Democracy are selected for "their dedication to fulfilling the promise of democracy and for the many ways they celebrate the rich heritage and vibrant communities of Washington, D.C."
September 17, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
The Committee to Modernize Voter Registration, a bipartisan group of election and campaign experts and former Republican and Democratic congressmen, aims to fix the nation's broken voter registration system. In 2008, four to five million voters faced registration issues that ultimately prevented them from casting a ballot.
The committee says that the two biggest problems with the current system are paper registration forms and the time constraints of the registration process. Paper registration forms are handwritten, often making it difficult for information to be accurately read or universally accessible. The system isn't properly set up to handle the sudden flood of incoming registration forms that arrive in the final days before the registration deadline. Both of these problems also make it difficult for someone to verify or correct their own registration information in time to cast a vote.
Jonah Goldman, who serves as strategic advisor to the committee, notes that "the system is problematic for all, but impacts young voters, military members, lower income voters, those who move, and voters of color more often than most." Goldman doesn't blame these problems on the election officials, but instead on the design of the system. "Election officials are not the problem; they are doing all that they can do, but they are unnecessarily strained."
The committee says that using existing government databases to automatically register voters could eliminate many of these problems. Databases would also remove artificial registration deadlines, save states money, and eliminate the need for third party groups to spend precious time and funds on registration efforts.
Congress is currently considering legislation to modernize voter registration. The committee will provide input and expertise to Congress, as well as individual states that may be considering similar legislation.
August 26, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Today marks the 89th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Ratified in 1920, the amendment gave women the right to vote. Women had been gaining suffrage, or the right to vote, on a state-by-state basis throughout the early 20th century, but the amendment granted all U.S. women full voting rights.
The amendment's ratification was the culmination of the Women's Suffrage Movement. Women's suffrage was first proposed in 1848 by participants of the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention, which included Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott.
The movement picked up steam when Alice Paul, president of the National Women's Party, lead eight thousand women in picketing the White House the day before Woodrow Wilson's inauguration in 1913. Women's active participation in the war effort during World War I also helped the movement gain support.
States with laws on the books requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote are: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania (blocked for 2012 election), and Tennessee. Other states – Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, and New Hampshire – also require a photo ID. Learn more.
And check out the Voter ID "Map of Shame" to see where laws have been passed, been stopped, or still face legal challenges.
Voices for Voting Rights (Minnesota)
Research & Reports
Latest Blog Posts
A Blog by The Leadership Conference Education Fund
By John Hamilton, a Fall 2015 Leadership Conference Education Fund Intern On November 1, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R. Wisc., made rounds on morning talk shows laying out his vision as the newly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. One t...
Earlier this week, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights shared a message from Terri Vest, who teaches 11th grade English, social studies, and online psychology courses at Twinfield Union School, a pre-K-12 school in Vermont.
Over the weekend, California became the first state to ban the use of a racist team name or mascot, a name that has come under pressure most visibly in the nation’s capital because of the name of the city’s professional football team. The California Racial Mascots Act, signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Sunday, won the praise of the Change the Mascot campaign. In a joint statement from Jackie Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, and Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation Representative, the campaign praised California “for standing on the right side of history by bringing an end to the use of the demeaning and damaging R-word slur in the state’s schools.”
When Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson were nominated for Emmy’s this year in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category, they were only the sixth and seventh Black women to ever be nominated for that award.
When Davis accepted her first-ever Emmy Sunday night, she also became the first of those seven women to actually win. Her acceptance speech, one that invoked abolitionist Harriet Tubman, was a powerful reminder that, as Davis said, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”
In 1971, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day” to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th amendment – guaranteeing women the right to vote – and to honor the brave women and men who fought for women’s suffrage. Today, on the 95th anniversary of the 19th amendment, the right to vote seems unalienable and fundamental to any democracy – but nearly 100 years ago, many Americans didn’t think women should have that right.
Early this July, six local transportation organizations from across the country gathered in D.C. for the Transportation Equity Caucus (TEC) first national equity convening – a two-day event of trainings, story-sharing, strategizing, and Hill visits with key transportation stakeholders. Each of the organizations in attendance —MORE2, Puget Sound Sage/Tacoma-Pierce County Equity Network, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Urban Habitat, Services for Independent Living, and WISDOM—had received grants of up to $25,000 from TEC in April to support projects that advance affordable and accessible transportation in their communities, making this convening an opportunity to share successes, learn from each other, and plan for the months of advocacy ahead.
35 Years Later: The U.S. Still Hasn’t Ratified CEDAW, But Local Activists are Working to Make a Difference for Women and Girls
Though we’re sometimes regarded as an exemplar of human rights, the United States stands out internationally today for one disappointing – and shameful – reason.
That’s because 35 years after President Carter signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an international human rights treaty intended to bring equality to women around the world, the United States still hasn’t ratified it.
By Hunter Davis, a Summer 2015 Leadership Conference Education Fund Intern Earlier this month, the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) held a briefing – and released a groundbreaking new report – on the cumulative costs of abusive lending, a ...
By Julia Burzynski, a Summer 2015 Leadership Conference Education Fund Intern During the month of June, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights partnered with the Immigrant Heritage Month Campaign to celebrate and commemorate the history...
By Hunter Davis and Matthew Meyer, Summer 2015 Leadership Conference Education Fund Interns In a historic 5-4 decision on June 26, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. The ruling extended the rig...