Congressional Democrats, led by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, have officially joined numerous groups on the state and local levels to combat Republican-backed voter ID laws.
On Friday, with the support of 140 co-sponsors, Senator Gillibrand introduced the Voter Empowerment Act. The VEA seeks to roll back many of the restrictions enacted (or attempting to be enacted) across the country by expanding voter registration through a new online system, allowing same-day registration, requiring universities that receive federal funds to “offer and encourage voter registration”, expanding training of poll workers and establishing standards for polling place practices, protecting against deceptive practices and intimidation that “poll monitoring” groups like True the Vote have been accused of, reauthorizing the Election Assistance Commission, and establishing a National Voter hotline to ensure effective reporting and addressing of voting related issues.
Groups like the NAACP, the ACLU, and a host of local organizations and coalitions, have stepped up to educate voters and push for repeal. Campus Progress has been training folks across the country, and grassroots groups like the Columbus-based Ohio Unity Coalition and the Philadelphia PA Voter ID Coalition have been checking voter rolls to see who might not have sufficient documentation and heading out to help them get adequate documentation. Some even believe that such an attack on the ‘sacred’ right to vote will invigorate the Democratic-base in targeted districts potentially increasing voter turn-out.