Voting Rights

Defending our freedom, though, is not just the job of our military alone. We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home. That includes one of the most fundamental right of a democracy: the right to vote. When any American, no matter where they live or what their party, are denied that right because they can’t afford to wait for five or six or seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals. President Obama, February 12, 2013

No right is more central to our notion of citizenship and democracy than the right to vote. As our democracy grows and technology advances, we must make every effort to keep pace the modern electorate and decrease barriers to casting a ballot.

For more than 50 years, the Voting Rights Act has helped secure the right to vote for millions of Americans. The Supreme Court’s 2013 decision invalidating one of its core provisions upset long-standing authority that helped to preserve the right to vote for all Americans, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent.  President Obama has called on Congress to pass legislation in response to the Court’s decision and ensure every American has equal access to the polls.

In the meantime, this Administration will also continue to do everything in its power to ensure a fair and equal voting process and expand access to the ballot. Working with state and local governments, there are steps we can take to keep voting fair and accessible to all Americans. The Justice Department has taken on more than 100 voting rights cases since 2009, and they’ve defended the rights of everybody from African Americans to Spanish speakers to soldiers serving overseas. In March 2013, the President established the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration, chaired by Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsburg. At the beginning of 2014, the Commission met with the President and delivered a report recommending common-sense strategies such as expanded early voting and online registration to reduce barriers to voting.  We continue to encourage States and local election boards to take up those recommendations.

Learn more about voting and elections here.